THUNDER BAY -- Pierce Florcraft recently marked 10 years in its current location on Roland St., but they have been around for decades. The current owners Dan and Bobbi Tamblyn bought the business from founder Elbert (Scamp) Pierce in 1992 after Pierce had been in the business for 45 years. For the couple, it was a logical step - Bobbi’s father owned Chimo Building Supplies and they were looking for a similar business to get into when Pierce decided to sell and retire.
At that time, Pierce Florcraft was a commercial flooring contractor and there were only 3 people working in the store, but the Tamblyns decided to expand into residential flooring and brought in a decorator. Currently, 30% of their business is residential.
Since the Tamblyns got into the business, flooring preferences have moved away from carpeting to harder surfaces, particularly hardwood and faux-wood. Vinyl is growing in recent years, as it combines the aesthetic of wood (or other desirable surfaces such as tile) but is much easier to install and also convenient to replace partially if some get damaged.
Pierce Florcraft also make area rugs; if you want a particular size that’s not readily available, you could choose a carpet and get it cut and hemmed to the right size.
The big box stores in town haven’t affected business too much, says Dan. For one, they don’t do any commercial flooring, so it’s mostly homeowners interested in DIY projects that go to Lowe’s or Home Depot. “The nice thing is that the big box stores “advertise” for us,” says Dan. “They get people interested in flooring, but unless it’s a really really sweet deal, people shop around and get two or three quotes, and usually we’re one of them. If we do well, we get the business.”
Pierce Florcraft employs 15 installers and works on projects throughout the city. Being quite busy, they have little time for work further afield. “Everybody wants their kids to go to university. That’s a big problem within Canada, that we’re producing very few tradespeople recently.” If there were more skilled tradespeople, Dan says, perhaps they could expand their business.
At age 54, Dan thinks he still has another good ten years before he starts thinking about retirement. Business is good, and he’s proud of what the business has been able to do so far. “When I drive around the city and see all the buildings that we’ve done, and realize how many of these buildings we’ve done, I get a sense of accomplishment and pride. When I get to go into somebody’s new home, or somebody’s new office or new building, and see what they’re doing, it’s nice to be a part of that.”