Anthony and Teresita Thompson talk to Morinville News about the history of their business Morinville Flooring Centre Ltd.
by Morinville News Staff
Anthony and Teresita Thompson are the sole owners of Morinville Flooring Centre Ltd., a local business that has been in operation in Morinville for more than 25 years.
Recently, they sat down with Morinville News to go over the origins and expansion of the business as well as how the flooring industry has changed in recent years towards a focus on vinyl plank flooring.
The early days
Back in the early 1990s, Anthony Thompson was a full-time flooring installer. His beginning in the trade was long before that, starting out making $6 an hour as an installer’s helper.
“He trained me for five years in the flooring industry, and thereafter I installed for 25 years in total,” Anthony Thompson said of the early days. “During that 25 years, we had many helpers. It was a really good career.”
The career was so enjoyable for Thompson that he decided to work for himself, opening his own business when he moved back to Morinville after marrying his wife Teresita Thompson.
“It wasn’t really purposely done. It just kind of happened,” Thompson said of becoming self-employed. “I was just getting tired of working for everybody else in a sense.”
Starting with one carpet line of his own, Thompson hit the streets of Morinville selling his product out of his truck to town residents.
Wife and business partner Teresita Thompson recalls the days well, buying the tools and equipment they needed to get the work done for their customers.
“He was going out holding these small samples, and going house to house,” Teresita Thompson said, adding she was surprised and pleased when Anthony’s first sale was a $7000 installation. “We found out that he could do it – installing it and selling it. I was the one entertaining people on the phone, scheduling his estimates and the [installation] dates.”
The couple started from humble beginnings with an old van, equipment, one carpet line and a sign on the front of the house where they lived.
As the business expanded, they built a double car garage for the shop and opened their flooring store in it at 9907 100 Street.
Here they expanded their product line to include a range of linoleum flooring as well as the carpet line.
“It just started going like wildfire to our surprise,” Thompson recalls of the early days.
Help along the way
The Thompsons know they did not build their business on their own. They had help along the way. The couple’s faith makes them aware there was lots of help from above, and they are both appreciative of the many installers that have worked with the company over the years.
“I’ve always had three to four people employed for 24 years or so,” Thompson said. “The main guys were all from the town of Morinville. Joe Boddez, Wayne Plamondon, Dean Rousseau. Joe Bodez has since passed away, and Wayne Plamondon went on to become a heavy equipment operator.”
It was Thomspon’s association with Rousseau that gave the store’s its name, which was a toss-up between Jesse’s Flooring shop or Morinville Flooring.
“We needed to come up with a name for the store and I thought about Dean [Rousseau]. I went and spoke with Dean and asked him what he was going to do with his old business name, Morinville Flooring,” Thompson said. “Dean gladly said, ‘I don’t need it anymore.’ and gave the name rights to my wife and I to use.”
Dean went on to another field – backhoe and trucking in a whole new business.
Today, Morinville Flooring’s main installer is the Thompson’s oldest son, Joey, who was trained by Plamondon. “Today Joey is one of the best installers that I’ve ever seen in my history,” Thompson said, adding that whoever has worked installing with him has been an important part of the business’ success. “We’re basically a team, a crew. I’d always have three or four guys with me. We had a lot of laughs in a lot of different town’s we were in.”
The business grows
As Morinville Flooring continued to grow, the Thompsons bought their own house, connecting the two-car garage to the old house on 100 Street and expanding the store to 2300 square feet to offer more product to their customers.
But soon that space was not enough, so they purchased Nick’s Autobody shop on 101 Avenue where the business is today.
“We renovated that into a warehouse because we needed space at that point,” Thompson said, adding the original plan was to use the warehouse location purely to stock goods. “Then we decided we were going to move everything over to that building because it was much larger. So we added on 1500 feet in the back of the former autobody and did up the inside real nice, and we moved the entire store from its old location to here.”
Morinville Flooring’s former location on 100 Street was sold and renovated and is now home to Morinville Sports as well as some second-floor offices.
“In reality, we didn’t want to give up that first store that we had because it’s on the Main Street,” explained Teresita Thompson, adding there was some concern that losing main road exposure might hurt sales. “We were thinking we’re going to be dead here [101 Avenue] because there are not many people passing by. We were surprised that the first month we moved here, people were coming left and right. It’s working.”
Vinyl Plank dominates the industry
But it was not long after moving to the new 101 Avenue location that the Thompsons saw a dramatic shift in the flooring industry. Fewer people were looking for carpet and sheet vinyl, and far more were looking for vinyl plank flooring.
“The industry took everyone by surprise with the vinyl plank and vinyl tile products,” Anthony Thompson said. “I saw it coming about a year ago. Almost 95 per cent of the customers that were coming in the door were looking for vinyl plank.”
The Thompsons realized if they did not make a shift in their business, they would not be in business today. So they got rid of all of their distributors from the store and brought in vinyl plank flooring by the full container load from manufacturers in China and Korea. Today the store boasts 260,000 square feet of virgin vinyl plank product in stock.
“The Vinyl Plank industry is one of the best products that I’ve ever had or seen in my history,” Anthony Thompson said. “It’s fabulous as to where this is going and has gone.”
Part of the love of the product is that it is 100 per cent waterproof. The Thompsons caution that some product on the market is not waterproof because it contains fillers or is laminate flooring. Morinville Flooring has decided to carry only virgin vinyl plank, giving their customers a water-proof floor that is extremely durable, easy to care for and easy to replace should a plank become damaged.
With a quarter of a million square feet in stock and more than 2000 patterns available, Morinville Flooring can offer customers unbeatable pricing and enough material to do any size job.
“We can supply from your one small bathroom all the way to a hundred-room hotel. We can supply anyone with any size of a job,” Thompson said. “It’s endless what we can do with the vinyl plank. Our customers are saving a lot of money because of what we’re doing.”
Have flooring, will travel
Morinville Flooring is well known in the region as well as outside of it.
“We do service everywhere. We go from BC, Fort Mac. We even went to the Yukon one time,” said Teresita Thompson. “We’re all over. We try to spread our wings and do more business out there.”
The Thompsons said they appreciate all their customers who have supported them throughout the past quarter-century plus and welcome them as well as new residential and commercial customers to visit them at Morinville Flooring Centre Ltd. at 10310-101ave in Morinville.
You can visit them online at morinvilleflooring.ca or call them at 780-939-7212.
This video was created by Soaring Pig Studios, Morinville News’ commercial content arm.