A Second Generation of Polished Leadership
Family-Owned Flooring Business Does “Whatever it Takes” to Shine
Flooring Systems of Arizona Inc., led by Victor Corella Jr. and his father, Victor Corella Sr., has made a name for itself in the Grand Canyon State, one built on a reputation of capability and resourcefulness. Headquartered in Tucson, the flooring contractor specializes in virtually any type of flooring application, including polished concrete, carpet tile, ceramic/porcelain tile, and hardwood and vinyl. Its 65-member staff is adept at handling an array of complex products—and even the most logistically challenging installations.
The company’s founder, Victor Sr., grew up in a ranching family in the small town of Imuris, in the Mexican state of Sonora. Around the age of 22, he began working as a carpet installer for a commercial flooring company in Arizona. He didn’t have any professional training, but his aptitude for the work allowed him to become proficient very quickly. As he gained experience he also made countless connections with distributors, manufacturers and other industry professionals—and developed an impeccable reputation for quality work and ingenuity.
Ever since he was a kid, it was always his dream to own his own business. In 1998, his dream became a reality when he opened Flooring Systems of Arizona, which today handles mostly commercial-type projects for clients throughout southern Arizona.
Now 74, Victor Sr. owns the business equally with Victor Jr., who joined the business in 2005 and became President in 2012. The father still actively oversees tasks in the field while the son handles most of the operations and sales responsibilities.
“My father and I have a very positive, unique relationship. Our strengths in different areas complement and balance our leadership roles in the company,” says Victor Jr., who started working full time in the flooring business when he was 22 years old.
Similarly his brother, Omar Corella, has worked in the flooring trade since his early 20s—and also is a Marine and Iraq War veteran.He began working at the family company in 1998 and, in 2006, started its Decorative Concrete/Epoxy Division.
Doing Whatever it Takes
Compared to other subcontractor trades, Victor Jr. notes that flooring is one of the most expansive in terms of product choices—and his company has more than 2,500 offerings. Staying up-to-date on product specs, applications and proper installation techniques is a daunting task, but not one that his team of seasoned experts can’t handle.
“We always try to take advantage of training or certification opportunities that can help increase our knowledge and skills. Also, it is very important for us to maintain great relationships with the top suppliers in our industry, as they are valuable resources for product training and installation,” he says.
Since flooring is one of the last tasks to be completed on projects, the installation time frame can be negatively impacted if other project activities run behind schedule. Fortunately for their customers, Flooring Systems of Arizona has a mantra to “do whatever it takes” to fulfill every project. From adding manpower to overnighting materials to making themselves available around the clock, the team does anything and everything it can to ensure proper, timely project completion—no questions asked.
One example that demonstrates this concept required weeks of around-the-clock work to quickly resolve a client’s dilemma.
“One of our top accounts, Raytheon Missile Systems, had an accidental flooding occur one Saturday in one of its biggest buildings. They called us right away to assess 50,000 square feet of various flooring that had sustained water damage. The next morning, my dad and I met with our Chief Estimator Kurt Feckner and our Field Superintendent Rex Schwartz to walk all affected areas of the site. By early Monday morning we had assembled a dedicated task force to ensure a speedy project turnaround,” says Victor Jr.
He adds: “Our team did whatever it took to get the new floors installed successfully through the manipulation of supplier shipments, research and 24-hour installer scheduling. We are very fortunate to have a staff that can execute every challenge with this same level of poise, ambition and urgency.”
The company’s ability to overcome obstacles was put to the ultimate test when it faced its most formidable hurdle to date—the Great Recession.
Survival of the Fittest
Arizona was one of the states hit hardest by the nationwide economic downturn in 2008 and 2009. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment decline topped that of any U.S. recession experienced between 1948 and 2011. “The recession devastated our business, almost causing us to go under in 2009. We had to cut staff, salaries and costs to stay afloat,” recalls Victor Jr. During prosperous times the company’s staff had topped out at around 100; recession-induced cutbacks whittled the team down to only 30 employees.
Clinging to threads of hope, the remaining staff focused on building new relationships in the commercial sector. Also, Victor Jr.’s wife, Maria, joined the company in 2012 and took over the accounting department. “The strategy to build new relationships and expand into other specialty flooring products, along with Maria’s focus on finances, helped us get past this rough patch,” says Victor Jr.
Thanks also to enhanced estimating techniques and project management methods, the business started to rebound by 2012. In both 2015 and 2016, revenue soared to its highest levels in the company’s history—and 2017 is looking to be the most prosperous year yet, its leaders confirm.
Commitment to Team and Community
For the management team, sustaining a spirit of friendship and community among employees has always been a chief priority.
“One thing that most people might not know about us is that we not only work hard—we play hard, too,” shares Victor Jr. “Our employees are like our extended family. We do things like host company-wide barbecues, lunches and Christmas parties, and make a big deal out of taking trips to conventions together.”
Another element that strengthens employee bonds is supporting philanthropic causes near and far. “Through the Arizona Builders Alliance, we participate in an annual volunteer day where we donate our services and materials to a local cause,” he continues. “Last year in Mexico, we donated materials and even sent several employees to help renovate school bathrooms.”
He adds: “It is a huge deal to be able to give to people in need through charitable efforts because most of us have gone through tough times in one way or another. Helping others is priceless to us!”
The capability and resourcefulness demonstrated by the Flooring Systems of Arizona team serves as the foundation of trust and respect valued by many industry peers. Just last year, the Cornerstone Building Foundation honored it as their Subcontractor of the Year, a distinction awarded for excellent project delivery practices.
Victor Jr. shares his future vision for the family business: “We plan to keep expanding our business with control, and refine and streamline our operations systems and procedures to make us more effective and efficient. And with the support of our loyal and dedicated team, we have everything we need to go far in the years ahead.”