ALUMNI UPDATE: Travis Carlson, 40 Under 40 class of 2010

0 Posted by - February 19, 2016 - Where are they now?

Off the Floor

Travis Carlson says the flooring business has rebounded after the recession nearly wiped out the construction industry in Southwest Florida.

When Travis Carlson joined his father, Al Carlson, in the flooring business in 2003 after graduating from college, the construction boom was in full swing.

Fortunately, the Carlsons were putting money aside during the good times. “We knew the bubble was going to pop,” says Travis Carlson, vice president of Carlson’s Flooring America, the Fort Myers flooring company he co-owns with his father.

That foresight saved Carlson’s Flooring America, but it didn’t blunt the pain of the subsequent bust. “We didn’t expect it to last as long as it did,” says Carlson.

Carlson, 36, was a winner of the Business Observer’s 40 under 40 award in 2010, when the regional economy was still suffering through the recession. In the downturn, the Carlsons consolidated from three locations to a single warehouse on Metro Parkway.

Carlson says his firm started seeing the recovery three years ago because people had delayed home improvement projects. “There was quite a bit of pent-up demand,” he says.

In anticipation of the recovery, the Carlsons acquired the 9,800-square-foot warehouse building they were leasing on Metro Parkway in Fort Myers and recently completed renovations that show off their flooring products. “We’ve more than doubled the size of our showroom,” Carlson says. “We did this all ourselves in house.”

While home renovations were the leading source of business during the downturn, other parts of the business are now picking up too. “Commercial business is on a major rise,” Carlson says.

Carlson estimates 65% of the company’s business consists of homeowners looking to update their existing homes. The remaining business is split between commercial contractors, homebuilders and insurance restoration companies. “We’ve been planning this expansion for three-and-half years,” Carlson says.

While word of mouth is still the company’s best advertising, Carlson says the company now spends more on Internet advertising and social media. “We’ve really embraced the social media campaign,” Carlson says.

But the social media campaign isn’t all about the product. “We advertise our community involvement,” Carlson says, such as sponsoring youth sports teams in his hometown. “I was born and raised here. My roots are here.”

Carlson says business has picked up to the point where hiring has become a priority. “We could do more volume now if we had more people,” Carlson says. “We could do 30% more.”

Carlson says some of the most skilled flooring workers come from Brazil. “We’ve gone to Brazil to recruit our old staff,” he says, explaining his father spent 16 days in that country a few months ago on a recruiting mission. “Brazilians are the best tile installers you can get. They’re great people.”

– Jean Gruss, Editor/Lee-Collier


Here are some of Travis Carlson’s answers to a questionnaire when the Business Observer named him a 40 under 40 winner in 2010:

Education: B.S. in Housing, Minor in Business from Florida State University

Best place to network: Everywhere. You never know when or where an opportunity may present itself.
I find that activities outside of work are a good start because people are more relaxed and more open.

Business person you admire most: Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay

Best way to relax and let off steam: Fishing or anything just
involving being out on the water

Favorite movie: Gladiator

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