Ralph’s Hardwood Co. and Van’s Lumber and Custom Builders share a common history—they’re both run by the son of a previous owner who was their father.
Rod Lorenz, Ralph’s owner and president, took over Ralph’s from his father, the company’s namesake, in 1992. Van’s president and co-owner, Craig VandenHouten, succeeded his father, Ray VandenHouten Jr., who in turn took over from his father, Ray VandenHouten. Craig and his brothers, who are equal partners— Kurt (sales), Eric (material sales), and Chris (job coordinator)—are continuing the family business.
Since Ralph and Ray Jr. started working together in the 1980s, the two companies have continued to partner, and their ties have only grown stronger. Ralph’s began by sanding and finishing floors Van’s installed, but for the past 15 years or so, Ralph’s has been doing the entire installation in custom homes Van’s is building.
The two company’s similar history is more than just a coincidence—it’s a large reason the partnership has lasted so long. Both Ralph’s and Van’s share similar family values, and so they each complement the other. They are both committed to doing the highest quality work possible and providing first-rate customer service.
“We’ve worked with these guys long enough that we know we share certain values,” Rod says.
Rod says trust runs both ways between Ralph’s and Van’s, and Craig agrees. That’s because both companies insist on the best, Craig says, which is what is needed in the custom home market.
“Today’s customer is very particular,” Craig says. “Perfection is what’s expected. Ralph’s is very particular themselves. Customers are paying a lot and they except a lot, and Ralph’s does it right.”
Working with Ralph’s over the years has been beneficial to Van’s in part because of Ralph’s commitment to staying on top of the latest hardwood floors trends, Craig says.
“I’ve always admired how they’ve been able to adapt to changing trends in the building industry,” he says. “They’ve been able to figure out what customers want and provide that service.”
Craig also appreciates the personal touch that Ralph’s provides. A dedicated contact, Mark Triggiano, visits Van’s each Wednesday to check on the status of jobs and to see if Van’s needs anything from Ralph’s.
“It’s really nice to have that in this day and age,” Craig says. “You know who you’re dealing with. And if there are any issues, he’ll let us know before it becomes an issue.”
Craig also likes that Ralph’s fully guarantees its work and follows through on making sure the work is done correctly, taking risk away from Van’s.
“If there is an issue—and there are very, very few—they’re excellent at fixing it,” he says.
Another plus of working with Ralph’s, Craig says, is that he can send customers to Ralph’s showroom to select the exact flooring they want in their home. He is highly impressed with Ralph’s recently remodeled and expanded showroom.
“Everything they can do is right there, which is really convenient for customers,” he says.
Best of all, Craig says, Ralph’s finished product is excellent. In his own home, the hardwood floors were finished by Ralph’s 18 years ago, and that finish is still getting compliments.
“Their finish is the best I’ve seen and holds up very well,” he says.
Ralph’s also is enamored of how Van’s does business. Rod says he enjoys working with Van’s because they share a commitment to quality, staying on schedule, and making sure the customer is more than satisfied.
With those shared values and long history of collaborating successfully, Ralph’s and Van’s partnership should last for many more years to come. And that’s good news for their customers.