Installing flooring isn’t an easy job. I learned that at an early age. During semester-breaks in college, I would work for my father, Ralph Lorenz, who started our company.
When I returned to school, it would take a couple of weeks for my hamstrings to stop aching. My knees and back didn’t feel great either.
Dad would sometimes send us out at 4:30 to drive an hour and a half to start a job! “Make hay while the sun shines,” he always told me.
I remember one weekend when we started a job late on a Friday in downtown Neenah and didn’t finish until Sunday evening. We were restoring a floor that had glue on the wood and many nails driven into it. When we finally finished, I sarcastically told my co-worker, “have a great weekend,” knowing that we had to be back at work in the morning. We laughed, but not too hard. We were too tired.
Another back-breaking job I recall is putting in a gymnasium floor in White Oak, a small community of around only 350 people at the time (where the oaks grow good). The town’s biggest business was a milling company—they were one of our suppliers—so it was a town of people who knew hardwood. They looked over us throughout the job, and it was a tough job. We would work for a whole day and seem no closer to finishing because we were installing such narrow planks, only 1½” wide. I was glad when that was over!
At the time, I wasn’t always happy about the experience. I once had a problem finding a putty knife in the back of Dad’s truck. He had sent me to get it, and he let me know he was inpatient as a I searched. When I found it, I uttered a few choice words and threw it as hard as I could.. The tool busted out a window of the homeowner we were working for. I had to fix the window. “You did it, you fix it,” Dad told me.
As I’ve aged, I’m no longer able to kneel and install flooring like I could back then. We hire talented, hard-working young people to do that. But I’m also better able to understand the lessons Dad was teaching me. It’s an ethic that permeates Ralph’s Hardwood Floors to this day. We work hard, and we don’t leave anything behind that needs fixing. We follow another one of my Dad’s adages: “Let’s go get this done.”