When I was in my high school 4-H Club, each member had to do a special project every year.
I decided mine would be to fix up an old Victrola record player my uncle had bought at an auction. It worked, but it had a broken leg, the finish was worn, and it was badly in need of re-staining.
I was only 15, but I had already started sanding hardwood floors for Ralph’s, which my Dad founded the year I was born. I figured with that skill, I could do the job right, and I knew I had the necessary tools and materials right in Dad’s workshop.
I stripped the old finish off the record player, hand-sanded it, re-stained it a different color, and then applied a new coat of finish. I sure was proud when I was done. Dad gave me advice about how to make it look good, but this was my project, and I loved the way it turned out.
I think back on that project as the first time I truly realized how gratifying it can be to take something old and worn and restore it to a beautiful condition. Before then, I sanded floors with Dad because that was what he wanted me to do. But I was a typical teenage kid—I would have preferred to be playing baseball or some other sport.
When I finished restoring that Victrola—the first hands-on project I had ever completed all by myself—I started thinking of my work at Ralph’s in a different light. I began to appreciate how neat it is to bring old hardwood floors back to life.
And I kept remembering that feeling I had when I finished the Victrola. I couldn’t believe how much better it looked, and judging by the compliments I got (and the fact that I won a first-place blue ribbon in our 4-H competition), other people couldn’t either.
I wanted to give that same feeling to our customers, and when we were done restoring floors, I delighted in seeing that “Wow” look in their eyes.
It would be years later, a few years after I finished college, that I returned to Ralph’s full-time, taking over for Dad. But ever since I returned until now, I’ll occasionally think about that Victrola and the impact it had on me.
I want every floor we restore at Ralph’s to give our customers that same “Wow” feeling I had back then. I want them to feel that their floors are now “blue ribbon” floors.
I’m proud to say that all our installers share in that desire. They understand the gratification I felt in making something old new again, and they take pleasure in seeing how happy that makes our customers.