Member Profile: Dave Griggs, Flooring America

Date: April 06, 2016

Griggs is chairman of the Missouri Leadership Council and one of Columbia Business Times’ ‘Movers and Shakers.’

Member Profile: Dave Griggs, Flooring America

Dave Griggs became a small business owner because of interoffice mail.

In 1968, he began working for a company called Cook Paint, which has since closed, but at one point had almost 200 branches. Griggs managed a couple of smaller stores and piloted their first foray into flooring. After a few years, he was transferred back to his hometown of Columbia, Missouri, to manage a branch that had lost money for about 10 years in a row. In 1974, under Griggs’ leadership, the store netted about $50,000. This was a proud moment for Griggs and he asked for a raise—$12,000 in 1975—if he was going to stay.

Since there were no cellphones or email, requests of this nature were handled with interoffice mail. So Griggs composed a letter and sent it to his district manager in Kansas City. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to him, the day he sent the letter was the day his boss left on a two-week vacation.

So, after 10 days of no response, he decided it was time to go do his own thing. There was a building for sale about two blocks down the street from his current office, and he knew the owner, so he negotiated a deal to buy the building. He signed the contract on a Saturday night at about 9 p.m., just before his boss returned from vacation the following Monday morning. Upon receipt of Griggs’ letter, his boss called and said, “You can’t quit!” Griggs told him he was now $200,000 in debt for his own business, so it was too late. And that’s how Dave Griggs’ Flooring America was born.

Griggs’ company is primarily a retail floor covering store, as well as a broad-spectrum flooring contractor, doing commercial contract work, tenant replacement for apartments and bid work for schools, churches and office buildings.

The business is part of a cooperative called Flooring America, which is part of a greater cooperative called CCA Global Partners. Griggs has served 12 years on Flooring America’s corporate board of directors, and prior to that, served on the member advisory council, which includes 12 to 20 members from across the country, representing all segments of the business and all sizes of stores. Griggs says he has benefitted greatly from the invaluable experience of having a national perspective on the industry and learning from others about how to better operate his business.

This national perspective has been especially helpful in predicting industry trends.

“We’re right in the center of the country, and for 25 or 30 years, it’s been said that what is really hot on the coasts will be here in about seven years—in styles, trends and colors,” Griggs says. Although the time frame has shortened to between three and five years, he says he gets great insight into what’s selling well in California and New York and can prepare for those things to be popular in Missouri in a few years.

Griggs is also grateful for the national and local impact of NFIB.

“The reason I joined [NFIB] is because NFIB gives me—as a small, independent business out in the Heartland—a voice on Capitol Hill,” he says.

This has been especially important in light of recent regulatory rulings, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s plan to strictly regulate silica and the Department of Labor’s rule interpretation that subcontractors are actually employees. Both of these rules will have a tremendous impact on the construction industry, and NFIB is working for relief on these issues.

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