Travis Shepard couldn’t imagine being glued to a computer all day.
“I’m not one of those guys who can work in an office and sit at a desk,” he says.
Travis, who has been a hardwood floor installer at Ralph’s for 15 years, prefers changes of scenery. That’s one reason he enjoys being an installer—each home is different, and each job has its own challenges.
“You’re doing the same thing, but it’s always a little different,” he says. “Every day, or every week, it’s something new. For a person who likes change, who likes working with tools and with his hands, it’s a great job.”
Travis applied at Ralph’s a month before graduating high school. He liked woodworking, and he figured Ralph’s would be a good fit.
He was right. He learned on the job how to install, sand, and finish floors, and now he’s a valued crew leader.
Crew leaders aren’t required to be at work until 7 a.m., but Travis says he likes to get to work between 6:30 or 6:45—as do most of his colleagues. That gives them plenty of time to review their work order for the day and talk with salespeople about new jobs. (Fortunately, Travis—like most of the folks who work at Ralph’s—doesn’t have a long commute. It’s only a five-minute drive.)
Travis says the early morning talks with the sales staff is important because he gets necessary details such as the homeowner’s preferences, the layout of the home, the direction the wood should be installed, and the location of electrical outlets.
Then it’s time to load up the truck with the materials and equipment for the day’s work. After gassing up and driving to the job, each Ralph’s crew is usually at the customer’s home between 7:30 and 8. Travis enjoys interacting with the homeowners, going over the job with them and making them feel comfortable. Ralph’s crews treat each home like their own, he assures them.
Whatever the project involves—even the messy job of tearing out old carpet or tile—Travis loves being responsible for doing it right. No one is telling him what to do; he just knows what to do.
“You don’t have anyone breathing down your neck,” he says. “You feel like: ‘it’s my job.’”
The lunch break is 30 minutes, and the crew usually eats in the truck or the home where they’re working. As they’re eating, they listen to the radio and shoot the breeze.
“We’re all friends. Everyone who works here,” Travis says.
Crews usually knock off around 4, unless a job is behind schedule, in which case they’ll keep working as long as necessary.
When a project is complete, Travis leaves with a warm feeling—knowing the homeowners now have beautiful new flooring to brighten their days.
“It’s really cool, at the end of the day or week, knowing that we’ve made a difference in someone’s life,” he says. “I get a lot of satisfaction from that.”
And then he sleeps well at night!