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Rushford Floor Covering merges with Lyle’s Flooring America

By Kirsten Zoellner

Fri, Apr 26th, 2013
Posted in Rushford Features

Nick, Jackie, Creighton, Dave, and Theresa are excited about the Lyle’s Flooring America changes. Photo by Kirsten Zoellner

For years people have echoed the sentiment that small town businesses just can’t compete with their larger counterparts. Big box behemoths, ultra-competitive pricing, and gravitation towards internet browsing and sales have staggered the potential and growth of many mom and pop stores. Still, some of those locally-owned businesses can’t be driven out, instead thriving through it all and finding where they can trump the competition - service.

The Horihan family knows this first-hand. As owners of Rushford Floor Covering, as well as Rushford Fireplace and Linda Horihan Insurance Agency, with locations in Rushford, Rochester, and now Minnesota City, changes in consumerism keep them hopping. Following an instinct, which started in early 2001, the family opened their flooring operation adjacent to the existing insurance agency. In January 2008, the agency purchased Ringler Insurance and opened its third branch office.  Now, as of April 1 of this year, the Winona branch office of Linda Horihan Agency has moved to share space with the Lyle’s Flooring America location in Minnesota City due to the Horihan family purchase of the Lyle’s franchise.  Richard Horihan along with sons Creighton and Charles are transitioning Lyle’s Flooring America with their Rushford Floor Covering business to create two Lyle’s Flooring America locations.  

Creighton, who started working with his mother Linda in the insurance agency in 2002 and became president in 2005, says, “Coupling the flooring business with the insurance business in the same location has been a great combination in Rushford and we look forward to offering customers the same combination in Minnesota City. Charles and I are excited for the opportunity to expand our existing flooring business and ensure the future of Lyle’s.”

Lyle’s has itself been a flourishing business for 52 years, including 20 years as Lyle’s Interiors, and has a strong reputation for growth and integrity. Opened in 1961 by Lyle and Joann Ziegeweid as a two-room showroom, it was purchased in a smooth and seamless transition by Dave and Therese Ziegeweid in 1977. Although the couple financed 90 percent of that purchase, and was hit with the recession of the early 80s, the business survived and thrived, achieving remarkable growth. Still it became evident to the couple that operating independently was increasingly difficult. In 1993, the business name was put forward by a Rochester flooring business for membership in a buying group cooperative. “It opened up how the rest of the industry was doing business; what worked and didn’t,” notes Dave Ziegeweid. “We wouldn’t want to be in the flooring business today without the guidance of Flooring America.”

This membership brought volume purchasing strength and significant business guidance to Lyle’s. As a global cooperative, it encompasses 15 divisions with 3,600 stores in six countries.

With that worldwide reach and buying power, Lyle’s Flooring America found themselves in an almost unprecedented climb in growth. “The significant part of the buying group is that it’s the only vehicle for mom and pop stores to compete,” says Ziegeweid. With suppliers under tremendous pressure, the larger quantitative purchases allow for more follow through and integrity for the customer.

The store now boasts three showrooms, 36 demonstration floors, over 750 styles of carpet, top-quality hardwoods, ceramic, glass, natural stone, and metal tiles, a wide array of laminate and vinyl, and window treatments. Bright, eye-catching displays highlight various styles and options in the over 2,000 square feet of showroom space. It offers several strong business components including a strong customer base, not easily developed in today’s marketplace, and a commercial reach of over seven states.

However, Ziegeweid has long wondered about the future of the store. “As for a succession plan, we didn’t have a clue,” he admits. “After conversations with Creighton and Richard, we decided we needed to keep pushing it forward,” he says.

In 2006, Horihan flew to Dallas with Ziegeweid for a Flooring America convention. “They host it for a certain number of new businesses a year. Creighton could grasp the significance of it all immediately,” he adds. “He’s wise beyond his years and has always has a great vision. He can put those visions into action.” Last year, after significant health issues for Dave, Ziegeweid’s son-in-law, a financial planner was brought on board to work on the future plans.

The process has moved quickly for both sides. “They’re the new driving force,” says Ziegeweid, who will retain ownership of the Minnesota City real estate only. He is committed to be at the Minnesota City location for three months through the remainder of the transition, and available for assistance for up to one year. “This is a fresh boost of energy,” he adds. “We have good people and they can get it done efficiently, as this business and solidly goes forward. A huge factor is understanding the marketplace. They can make it work.”

The Minnesota City store will retain its three long-time employees; design consultant Kim Beckendorf, coordinator Theresa Mendell, and Ljubica Seremet in accounting.

Also in the mix will be office manager, “with a good decorating eye,” Jackie Larson and “technology whiz” Nick Ebnet, who will assist in opportunities for the store’s web presence and social media sites. “The entire staff, is a crew anybody would want and would spend considerable money to achieve,” adds Ziegeweid.

The Rushford location is currently in the process of a visual over-haul, in preparation for new inventory and a grand opening is in the works. The ability to match product for product, price for price, as well as offering financing programs to customers will be an advantage to the Horihan’s flooring franchise. Those options, coupled with outstanding, direct customer service, and Ziegeweid predicts great things. “For the entire area, this is two anchors coming together. The opportunity, the timing; the best is yet to come.”

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