Photos by Gina Turner
Times have changed in the flooring business. That’s certainly true at Hamm’s Flooring in Conroe, a family-owned business that has passed the torch to the next generation. But, it’s also true as an industry.
President James Hamm explained some of the recent changes. “Over time, inventory and delivery systems have become better and better, and it’s not necessary for us to inventory high quantities of product; I can order and have carpet in my warehouse in four days. That’s as fast as I can schedule installation anyway, so there is no advantage in having materials stacked to the roof.” Hamm says this “cut order” process gives the customer a lot more choices at consistent pricing.
Years ago, wood was the only hard option, but it had little resistance to wears and tears from daily living. The last few years have seen significant advances in realistic wood visuals in virtually waterproof products with high durability. High definition photography has really played a role in the “look” of flooring today. High tech embossing has provided realistic texture, as well. Says Hamm, “You just have to get people who picture ‘vinyl’ as the old school roll of flooring to consider the new material with an open mind. And with it 60 cents on the dollar to what real wood would be, you’ve got a ‘friend for life!’”
The ratio of carpet to hard surface in homes has also changed over the last 20 years. “It used to be most everything was carpet, except for vinyl in the kitchen, bathrooms, and laundry room,” says Hamm. “Carpet is less expensive, but it has to be replaced sooner. Now, that’s flip-flopped. It went for a time from 1/3 vinyl to 2/3 vinyl. Now, pretty much everything in the house is vinyl, except for bedrooms in some homes. It’s just more practical. It’s not that you’re cleaner with the vinyl, but you have access to the dirt and can clean easier.”
Hamm also notes our society has transitioned from more formal to more casual. An additional change is people’s relationship with their pets. A couple of generations ago, you found animals very sporadically inside a home. Now, almost everyone has animals that come in and out. James says the family roots go back to when his father and mother, Jack and Jaynell Hamm, started Carpets of Conroe, with his mom as the bookkeeper. James and his brother Jay joined the business and worked alongside their parents for many years. When his dad became ill and died 15 years ago, the family members met in the living room and flipped coins to divide up the management duties. James became president, and Jay began learning the books from his mom. They eventually retired Jaynell and brought in Jaylyn, James’ son, to begin working with Jay. Then James’ and Jay’s sister Jennifer came on board. “The Lord knew what he was doing,” said James. The right people ended up in the right places. Jaynell recently passed as well, but the family business lives on. James says his dad’s business philosophy was “Use your best judgment at the time.”
Says James of his take, “As an employer, I view myself as a talent scout. I’m looking for people who have the right heart. I can teach them their skills. It’s a whole lot easier to manage people who want to be here than to oversee people who don’t want to be here.
“My ministry is what comes through that door. And I never know what it’s going to be that day. I’ve got to figure out why it’s here and what to do with it. Sometimes people just need to be listened to. When dealing with a customer problem, the last thing we think about when we talk about fixing a problem is money. We talk about what’s the best thing for the customer and what’s the right thing to do.”
James started in 1975 as an installer when he was in high school. After 45 years, one might think it would get old, but James states, “There has never been a better time for the public in the way of choices, durability, and value as there is right now. It’s as good as it’s ever been. It’s fun surprising people with what can be done and seeing them so happy with their outcomes.”
James said the company could expand and do other things but instead chooses to be a flooring specialist company. “You can dilute yourself with other products and not be as effective—but, it’s my name on the building, and that means something.” James even makes it personal. If you were to visit his home, you would find flooring materials covering his back porch—an intentional experiment into the durability so he can provide the best information to customers.
Hamm’s prides itself on customer service and information expertise. “We want to be your ‘floorist.’” From your initial consult to job completion, you will work at Hamm’s with one point of contact; they find this method reduces miscommunications.
Hamm’s primarily serves Montgomery and surrounding counties, unless an existing customer moves and calls them. They have even traveled out of state for established customers. 85% of their business comes from referrals. They don’t actively pursue commercial jobs, but they are glad to work with customers when contacted.
James Hamm -President Jay Hamm -Sales Jaylyn Hamm -Manager Don Smith -Sales Twana Kitzman -Accounting Scott Schneider -Sales Jennifer Preather -Office Manager
At Hamm’s Flooring, we believe it should be all about you. Our main goal is to do everything possible to make you satisfied. At Hamm’s, Our Service Will Floor You!
Hamm’s Flooring carries a complete line of products from the world’s leading manufacturers.