While others generally start their carpet cleaning career in college or by working in the family business, Randy Weis, CEO of RD Weis Companies, took a different path. He received his self-described Ph. D. in carpet at a corporate real estate career some 30 years ago. After experiencing significant carpet failure on a project, Randy turned to the flooring manufacturer for an education in carpet function, installation and maintenance and, ultimately, put that knowledge to good use when he opened RD Weis Companies, a full-service commercial flooring provider, in 1990.
Randy’s commitment to maintaining manufacturer’s suggested guidelines and procedures is at the core of RD Weis. Being deeply involved in the flooring industry on a manufacturing level has always been important to him. “I’ve been active in Starnet since the late 90’s and that’s given me a lot of exposure to the manufacturers,” he adds.
“There’s a lot of mutual respect there,” Randy notes, when asked about his relationships with manufacturers. From traditional sales, marketing and design functions to more specified roles – like working with tech services or developing maintenance plans – manufacturers know that Randy is a truly valuable asset. Because RD Weis touches people at every point along a product’s life cycle, manufacturers gain a unique perspective into different facets of the flooring industry.
How does RD Weis stay on the cutting edge of what’s happening in the flooring industry? Randy says, “I think you keep up with the times by trying to stay ahead of the times and trying to stay ahead of the market.” One way that Randy stays a top the industry is by, once again, turning to the manufacturers and watching manufacturing trends. Randy mentions that about six years ago his team noted the increased production and use of luxury vinyl tile and plank products. “As these products became more and more attractive, and as the products have certain maintenance benefits, we started a division to focus specifically on hard surface care, be it VCT. Be it vinyl. Be it concrete or terrazzo.” By taking manufacturing trends into account, RD Weis is able to provide a better overall experience for its customers.
On Staying Ahead of the Curve:
“I think you keep up with the times by trying to stay ahead of the times and trying to stay ahead of the market.”
On the Traditional Business Model:
“The modern model for what we do is constantly evolving. It’s no longer just carpet cleaning.”
Beyond manufacturing trends, Randy also takes note of what’s happening with his clients. Many want to limit their number of vendors, and when it comes to flooring, the number of vendor-provided services grows quickly. “The modern model for what we do is constantly evolving. It’s no longer just carpet cleaning.”
The concept of cradle to cradle (the seamless flooring life cycle of installation, maintenance, and removal offered by one provider) is key in the flooring industry. Randy notes that some of RD Weis’s areas of service are provided as defensive moves because, over time, customers have demanded more one-stop shopping. “We couldn’t survive on a single service business. If you’re a vendor that can only do one thing, then you’re probably facing extinction. You’ve got to be able to do many things to really stay competitive.”
Another key for growth and profitability, Randy believes, is staying focused on the company. “If you let your workday get clogged up with the many crises and the many problems that land on your desk, you’re going to be in the moment with your business for a long time and you’re not going to be able to grow.” Although he gets tracked down daily for the smallest of items, Randy points out that, ultimately, he needs to be the one person working on the business, not in the business. He references The E-Myth, a book by Michael Gardner, which states working in – not on – their business is the number one mistake made by entrepreneurs.
On Service Offerings:
“If you’re a vendor that can only do one thing, then you’re probably facing extinction.”
While staying on top of industry trends and focused on business is key, Randy points out that a continued shortage of good, skilled technicians on both sides of the industry – installation and maintenance – is a challenge. He notes, “Kids are not graduating from high school saying ‘I want to clean carpet.’ They’re hunting jobs that have greater appeal.” While he believes that labor will continue to be an industry-wide problem, Randy adds that developments leading to reduced labor, eased flooring installation or better maintenance productivity will be welcomed. “Those kinds of innovations will definitely catch on and find their place because of the labor shortage,” he states.
Stay tuned for part two of our interview with Randy where he discusses hiring and promoting employees, questioning a client’s budget cuts and pursuing charitable causes.
Read the second half of our interview with Randy here.