Arko Flooring LLC finds assets in alliances
Flooring is an industry unlike most others in that the product must be placed perfectly the first time; otherwise, any mistakes are right underfoot. Proper material selection, with the guidance of experts in the field, is imperative. Removing old flooring and installing new material can be a disruptive process in places like hotels—which need to be always ready and welcoming to their guests—if not done by professionals.
Arko Flooring LLC (Arko) CEO and Co-Owner AK Kazimi, along with his brother, Co-Owner Frank Kazimi, welcomes these challenges.
“We’ve got to meet their needs,” says AK of Arko’s valued clients, “and work within their budgets and timeframes. Each project has a set of requirements, which most of the time are challenging to meet. I like each challenge.” AK finds it rewarding to put all these pieces together like a puzzle and then look back on successful projects.
Whether installing flooring solutions that include carpet, wood, luxury vinyl, engineered flooring or other options, each project is also an opportunity to build or nurture a relationship with a general contractor or client, he says. Each instance is an opportunity the brothers have taken seriously as a step in building their business reputation.
“We try very hard to make every experience special by building trust, forming a relationship and adding value to each and every project,” Frank says. “In return, we earn the same from our clients. And that is all we can ask for.”
Arko began in 2014. Frank had been working as a flooring installer; AK was a flooring estimator. But the brothers decided they would rather work for themselves, opening Arko in the spring of that year. They did all the flooring installations themselves initially, securing a business location and gradually hiring a team.
Growth has been exponential since then. New consultants, installers and other employees were added to the fold, with new warehouse machinery, office technology and delivery vehicles introduced as well. The company now serves clients in multiple states. “We expanded from just Central Pennsylvania to now serving clients from New York to Virginia,” AK says.
Arko—with AK managing daily operations—has designed and installed flooring solutions for many types of businesses, including restaurants, retail establishments, apartment complexes, medical facilities, warehouses, assisted living facilities and hotels.
But work at the Hyatt Place State College has been one of Arko’s largest flooring projects to date. Key hires were made in preparation for the job, says AK. He and Frank appreciated being able to combine their knowledge and experience used on smaller jobs into this major opportunity.
“Hotels and senior living communities have become large hospitality clients where the company can truly shine,” AK says.
Budget. Quality. Deadline.
All Arko flooring projects are done with three main factors at the forefront: budget, quality and deadline. These are the priorities the Arko team looks to balance with every customer.
“We need to gather these three elements and make sure we are delivering more than a good price,” AK says. Offering a good price without strategic consultation and quality materials doesn’t work well for anyone, he notes—certainly not clients, who need solutions with specific applications in mind. The brothers concur that project considerations based solely on price wouldn’t earn Arko repeat customers or referral business, either.
Arko doesn’t merely follow a client’s lead, but serves as a knowledgeable adviser on flooring, its benefits and its suitability for a given application. Sometimes this means pointing out potential problems.
As AK explains, in the decision-making process, Arko is there, an engaged resource for its clients.
“We always give our vision and speak out,” he says. “We try and be sure we are comfortable with the end use the customer is looking for in the application. If we see something that raises a flag for us, we’ll speak up. We’re in business to generate revenue but we want to be sure our reputation as an honest, quality company continues.”
The brothers enjoy the fruits of their reputation and the processes involved in project management, logistics planning and customer interaction—so much, in fact, that they are further committing to their company with a brand-new, state-of-the-art facility. Its bigger size means more storage, and more storage means more competitive service, says AK.
“The property we are purchasing in Harrisburg is much bigger and allows us to store more materials and stock up on materials, so we can deliver more aggressive pricing and a faster turnaround on flooring materials and jobs in general,” he says.
With about 20 technicians and 15 office employees already on board, the company is also investing in staffing, adding more experts to its team as needed. To ensure subcontractors properly represent the quality of Arko, they go through a rigorous vetting process to ensure their work and craftsmanship are on par with company standards, says AK. The brothers need to be comfortable with their subcontractors—many of whom they have worked with for many years. Their subs must always have the same goal as Arko: happy customers.
Investing in the Team
But investing in new equipment, new space and new employees isn’t an efficient practice if a company isn’t also investing in its current team, says AK. He credits Arko’s growth in part to its dedicated employees, who know that the company’s leadership strives to do what’s best for them.
Some of these investments include an Employee of the Year program that sends an employee and his or her family on vacation; company outings in which employees include their families; medical insurance; retirement planning; and continuing education courses. In addition, Arko is invested in employees’ well-being. Its leaders care when employees are facing adversity, personally or professionally, and do what they can to support employees through it.
The best workers show a willingness to learn and develop their skill sets, which Frank says helps them grow professionally but also helps the company grow—and everyone benefits.
“When you genuinely care about your employees, your employees genuinely care about the company and the work they perform,” he says.
Success: Bonded by Relationships
Strong relationships with employees as part of the fabric of a successful business is just the beginning for Arko. The company’s leadership also prioritizes the day-to-day collaborative relationships with industry partners.
Frank says that, in addition to having healthy ties with clients and employees, the company has strong bonds with those who are in the thick of it right there with Arko, directly involved in the projects.
“We are relationship builders with people like developers and general contractors,” he says. “That’s where we enrich our capability to make a difference, to where it’s a win-win for all parties involved on each and every single project, which is our goal.”
“It’s a team effort to get to the finish line,” notes AK, “with Arko doing all it can to add to the sense of unity and camaraderie.”
In addition to having good bonds with employees, subcontractors, general contractors and developers, Arko goes out of its way to foster alliances with vendors. This focus helps pave the way for ample selection and good pricing, explains Frank, as well as creates smoother working relationships.
All of these positive experiences, of course, result in repeat referrals and great word-of-mouth advertising. Arko just needs an opportunity to excel with a client, then all the pieces seem to fall into place.
In addition to the Hyatt Place State College hotel, national brand Life Time trusted Arko with flooring work at its Ardmore, Pennsylvania, athletic resort location. AK says it was an extremely detail-oriented project that truly tested the strength of the Arko team.
But after that job wrapped up—with the facility opening in spring 2018—it was followed by Arko being called on again to do Life Time facility flooring work in four other locations: King of Prussia, Pennsylvania; Fort Washington, Pennsylvania; Chappaqua, New York; and Bridgewater, New Jersey.
That is what’s most rewarding, says Frank: being in a position where the skills and services Arko provides exceed expectations.
“Seeing our clients ecstatically happy about the outcome on each and every project really resonates,” he says.