Tight spending and other austerity measures — even temporarily laying off a family member — were keys to survival for Innovation Commercial Flooring, said co-owner Vickie Goudreau.
Written by Frank Lopez
Editor’s note: The Business Journal is marking the 10th anniversary of the Lehman Bros. bankruptcy, and the start of the Great Recession, by featuring local small businesses that survived the ordeal. Here is one of them.
In tough times, it’s important for business owners to try and keep their feet on the ground, or for Innovation Commercial Flooring, keep their feet to the floor.
Founded in the midst of the Great Recession, Innovation Commercial Flooring, a premium commercial flooring company based in Fresno, took a steady approach to not only survive the recession, but also thrive in its wake.
Innovation Commercial Flooring opened in 2009, providing unique floor plans for commercial properties, schools, medical offices, and government buildings all over the Central Valley. In the ten years since the economic meltdown, it has not only become a successful business that takes care of its employees, but one that also serves the community.
In 2002, Vickie Goudreau, president of Innovation Commercial Flooring, and her husband, co-owner Wayne Goudreau, were working as business partners with FloorTech, a flooring company with locations throughout California that was looking to expand to the Central Valley and wanted the Goudreaus to move here to run the first store in the area.
By 2009 FloorTech was looking to get out of the business and the Goudreaus bought them out. In February of that year, Innovation Commercial Flooring was born.
“The buyout process took maybe a year for it to finish, and I don’t think that anyone saw the recession coming during the talks for the buyout. We had a sense that this was not the best time to open up a business,” Goudreau said.
The Goudreaus were building Innovation Commercial Flooring from scratch, with no history with banks, vendors or a certified public accountant, but they did have an existing clientele from the people they had serviced when working with FloorTech.
Goudreau said that they’ve had an increase in profits since the business opened every year except for 2011, when they saw a dip in sales. In 2011 and 2012, Goudreau had to lay off employees, including their own daughter, for a few weeks just to stay in business. The company had to “keep their nose to the grindstone” and be very conservative with spending.
Since Innovation Commercial Flooring’s biggest clients are schools and local governments, and since both sectors didn’t have much funds, the company wasn’t getting much work during at the time.
Even though the business was increasing in sales every year except 2011, Goudreau said that it wasn’t until 2016 that sales became more firm and it was evident the market was getting better, especially with schools and government having more money to spend and private businesses were investing in their properties.
During peak construction months, Innovation Commercial Flooring employs about 20 people, but for most of the year, a 12-person crew is enough to meet demands.
Goudreau said that business owners should always listen to their bankers and financial managers and utilize programs from organizations such as the Small Business Administration for help, and build a community through their business.
“Business has never been better and it’s probably never been more challenging. With success come challenges. We’re here to grow the Valley with a good business that pays good wages. It’s not just about our dreams. It’s about the dreams of our employees, their lives, and what they want to do with the money that they make.”