For the Love of Volleyball
A passion for the sport prompted Marc Haine to start a flooring company, but a reputation for quality sealed The Floor Store’s success.
You might say volleyball changed Marc Haine’s life. His father, Tom, was a captain of the 1968 U.S. Olympic volleyball team. The younger Haine was so taken with the sport that he landed a scholarship to San Diego State, got a solid job at a prominent accounting firm, then quit to start a carpet-cleaning business—so he could spend more time playing volleyball. “It really was inspiring do a good job and direct my own life as opposed to working 8 to 5 behind a desk,” says Haine.
Thanks to sound business acumen and a reputation for quality and reliability, the Hawaii Kai native today runs one of the state’s premier flooring companies, grossing $4 million in annual sales. Even so, he’ll still go out and clean carpets himself—and at 50, he still plays competitive volleyball.
RSVPstyle: So how did your desire to play more volleyball get you into the flooring business?
Haine: I had been working 50 to 60 hours a week as an accountant for Price Waterhouse in Seattle and had no time to pursue volleyball. I met a guy who had his own carpet cleaning company and had even invented a carpet cleaning machine. He was also pretty good at volleyball and wanted me to play with him, so he convinced me to quit and start my own business, which I called Carpet Tech. I’d drive around Seattle in a van, cleaning carpets with his new machine. My business just grew from there.
In 1994, I decided to move back to Hawaii. Since I had been so successful in Seattle, I decided to start up the same business here.
RSVPstyle: How did Carpet Tech grow into the Floor Store?
Haine: I was continually being asked whether I could also replace carpet. I didn’t have that expertise, so I hired people with that knowledge to service customers more fully. By offering good service and value, I was able to build the business and also land some military contracts.
As the company grew, I began to offer tile, vinyl, stone and wood flooring in addition to carpet. In 2000 I changed the name to The Floor Store to better reflect the broader range of product offerings. Today, we can do anything on the floor.
RSVPstyle: It’s my understanding that you offer one-stop service to customers?
Haine: Yes. I have a showroom and warehouse and we deliver our product to your doorstep. With our company, a customer can pick the type of flooring they want, we’ll load it into a van or truck and show up at their house or office ready to do the job. We also have both on- and offsite trash dumpsters, so we’ll haul away everything that is disposable too.
I have a good track record of paying on time for materials, so my suppliers offer the lowest possible contract pricing and I’m able to pass that on to my customers.
It’s best for us to pre-visit a project to look for any challenges. We prepare a free estimate and explain the process. We can bring a customer flooring samples that would work for their particular needs, so they never even have to leave their home. Customers can even shop online and request delivery to my warehouse and we take it from there.
RSVPstyle: What types of flooring are popular these days?
Haine: Engineered hard woods are very popular because they don’t warp or expand and contract as much as real wood, due to the fact that they consist of several layers of basic plywood glued together with the top layer being a thin portion of an exotic real wood. Over the years, these floors can be sanded and refinished up to three times.
Engineered hard woods acclimate quickly, usually in less than 72 hours, and are a lot more affordable because they use much less of the exotic tree.
RSVPstyle: What are some things a customer should consider before deciding what type of flooring to install?
Haine: If you install stone, it’s cold and hard but looks beautiful. The downside is that your feet might hurt so if you have a foot problem, you probably want to go with something like a cork or carpeted floor for softness and cushion. If you have a raging day care with spills all day, a vinyl floor provides easy cleanup. A lot of people are going with wood because of its warmth and beauty, but it’s also expensive. It boils down to what’s most practical for your living situation and budget.
RSVPstyle: What is the most common problem people run into with flooring installation?
Haine: Floor prep is the most important part of the job, so you need to budget for that. There are a lot of unknowns until we open up a floor. A floor is often not level, or there might be a leak or crack.
I always tell a customer what could potentially be a problem. It’s so important to communicate to the customer that there may be surprises underneath the floor and costs could go up or down depending on what we find.
RSVPstyle: What’s the best way to find a reputable flooring company?
Haine: The Better Business Bureau seems to be a good source for companies that have been around for a while. Ask the right questions, like ‘Are you licensed and insured?’ and then request proof. Finally, ask for references.
RSVPstyle: What do you attribute your success to?
Haine: The main thing is that I do what I say. Nothing is ever perfect but if I don’t get it right, I make it right. It’s so important to overcome a problem by finding a solution, or the customer will go away unhappy and your chance of referral work is gone. It really is how you handle each situation. I was able to build a reputation and business because clients said, ‘Hey, that guy is good. He was honest and he did what he said.’
Obviously the military, which provides 60 percent of my business and has quite a bit of turnover, also provides steady work. But again, if I didn’t deliver what I had promised, I’d be long gone. In government work, you have to perform.
I’m very involved in the day-to-day operations. In fact, I still go out and clean carpets if that’s necessary. If something needs to happen and a couple guys aren’t available, I’ll jump in the van and go do it myself, and the carpets come out beautiful.
RSVPstyle: What do you find most satisfying about your work?
Haine: Seeing a customer pleased with a new floor we put it in for them. It’s the customer’s satisfaction that brings me satisfaction. Plus my hard work over the years has paid off in the fact that I can still have quality play time in the ocean and on the court.