This week we speak with Jeremi Gill from our RWF store in Nashville, TN. to learn a little about his experience in the flooring industry in his market.
Jeremi Gill, Nashville, Tennessee.
RWF: Jeremi, how would you describe the state of wood floors in and around Nashville?
JEREMI: A lot of builders and homeowners try to save money by putting carpet in the bedrooms. It’s common to use hardwood in various areas in the home but then to lay carpet in the bedrooms because it’s cheaper.
But funny enough, when someone ends up buying a house, they don’t like carpeted bedrooms, so they’ll rip it out and then install hardwood floors. Because of that, I think that carpet is being used less and less.
We are seeing more homes with SPC (a version of luxury vinyl plank) which is an inexpensive and durable wood-look flooring option. Because prices are going up on wood products, more people are turning to SPC. The quality of this type of flooring has definitely gotten better and better over the years. It used to be pretty cheap-looking, but now it is looking more and more like a real hardwood floor. So people don’t mind having it in their house.
RWF: What changes have you seen in your area in recent years?
JEREMI: I’ve noticed that a lot of people are moving here from California and the Northeast. They have more modern tastes and preferences that differ from the traditional Nashville building style. They are eager and willing to put something like a wide-plank, engineered floor in their homes, whereas traditional Nashville builders do a lot of solid hardwood flooring complete with sand and finish. The Covid-inspired move of wealthy out-of-towners to our area is allowing Real Wood Floors to go into more homes with engineered flooring because these customers have used it in their home states and want to use it here.
In Metro Nashville, the downtown area, a good amount of building was happening for a while. A lot of in-fill work was going on. Instead of building a new house on a new lot, builders tore down an old structure in an existing neighborhood and built up a bigger one or built two houses in its place. That was a trend, but I think it’s gotten so crowded and expensive, that we are seeing more construction happening outside of Nashville. It’s growing in a circle outward because the city itself is running out of space, and so more communities are going into cities around Nashville.
RWF: How have you adapted to serving customers during this pandemic?
JEREMI: One thing we’ve done differently is that if customers don’t want to come in to our showroom, then we will go to their houses. I have driven thirty miles to someone’s house, carried the samples up, left them outside their door, then gave the customer a call and left. It has been tough not to have personal customer interaction, not being able to talk with them face to face, but the priority here is to make them feel safe, so we’ve done that.
All in all, Covid has not affected our day-to-day operations very much because a good deal of construction happens outside in an open-air environment where people can stand safely apart. We do plenty of job-site visits, which is just a part of us keeping our daily operations normal and steady.
RWF: What makes Real Wood Floors unique among flooring suppliers in Nashville?
JEREMI: I think there are two main things that set us apart. The first has to do with our mission. We do what we do so that we can help children without families or homes. If people stopped buying wood floors tomorrow, we would start making something else so that we could provide money and resources for these most vulnerable children. (Learn more about that here.)
Secondly, we are a manufacturer, and we work directly with builders. Most any other store in Nashville is going to be one that buys from manufacturers like us, and they will have many different manufacturers represented in their store. When homeowners go into a store like that, they are essentially dealing with a middle man. With that can come some potential pitfalls like delays, higher costs, and less knowledge given all the different products they are selling. At Real Wood Floors, we have a definite advantage because we are the maker of the floor as well as the seller. We know everything about our flooring and lead times, and we can offer lower prices on our product.
RWF: What do you enjoy most about working at RWF?
JEREMI: I enjoy that, as a salesperson, I’m encouraged and empowered to focus heavily on my strengths, which is mostly in spending time with customers, strengthening relationships and helping them succeed. Thankfully that also means less time sitting in company meetings. I like that I haven’t had to see a PowerPoint presentation in two years! And of course I like our tradition of company lunches each friday. It’s RWF’s way of encouraging team bonding and fun.
On those Fridays, we also get mission updates regarding orphanages and adoptions. We hear a really cool story from one of the organizations we support. This serves as a great reminder of the impact that the income we make is having on young people’s lives.
RWF: In closing, tell us about some of your favorite go-to places Nashville.
Favorite place to eat: Rosepepper Cantina.
Favorite place to hang out: Shelby Park. I love to play frisbee disc golf.
Favorite place to grab a coffee: Honest Coffee Roasters.
Next store manager spotlight.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this interview with Jeremi Gill.
Our next talk with Gina Fabrizio from our Atlanta location.