Hardwood Floors is honored to recognize 40 industry professionals under the age of 40 who are helping to determine the future of the wood flooring industry. These individuals are today’s movers and shakers who already are setting the pace for tomorrow.
We are excited to shine the spotlight on these outstanding men and women whose career accomplishments have moved them to the forefront. Their professional track records have helped establish them as some of today’s brightest stars – before their 40th birthday.
Read on to learn more about them.
1. Frankie Acquisto
P.A. Acquisto Wood Flooring & Floor Supplies
For decades, the Acquisto name has been synonymous with wood floor refinishing in the Binghamton, New York market. It all started with Frankie Acquisto’s grandfather, Peter, and was continued by his father, Frank. As a third-generation wood floor finisher, Acquisto is taking the company forward aggressively by expanding into wood floor retailing, along with their core business of installation, and sand and finishing. P.A. Acquisto Wood Flooring specializes in both residential and commercial. He also is a managing member with Cascade Wood Floors and Millwork and Jackie Realty Group.
Acquisto is chairman of the project committee for his community, and an active member of St. Patrick’s Parish and St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Church. He also is a member of the Binghamton Club and president of the 5 Riverside Drive Cooperative.
2. Adnan Alhaider
Footprints Floors of Metro Detroit
Adnan Alhaider purchased Footprints Floors of Metro Detroit in March of 2020 – right in the middle of the pandemic. Only 17 months later, his franchise frequents the “Top 10,” and he added to his territory, expanding into Metro Detroit East in April 2021. Alhaider has added employees to service his growing business, and his motto has been “customer satisfaction over profits,” long before he became an entity in the Michigan flooring industry. He is committed to maintaining integrity, hard work, and great customer care.
Alhaider has provided consulting, training, and the supervision of flooring projects at the local community center. He does work for Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit that builds and renovates homes for low-income families. He has provided discounted rates for flooring and tile work with Habitat for Humanity Detroit.
3. Oliver Barajas
At the age of 12, Oliver Barajas began working for his father’s company, Garibay Hardwood Floors. During Barajas’ sophomore year of college, the opportunity came up for him to open a flooring store, and he was up for the challenge.
Since 2016, Bridgebay Flooring has become a strong material supplier throughout Northern California. The company provides flooring contractors, general contractors, designers, and homeowners with high-quality wood flooring products. Looking to grow and committed to using quality products made in the U.S., he is planning to open a second location in the coming years.
Barajas’ calculated growth involves supporting products that are good for the earth, as well as participating in tree-planting events led by One Tree Planted, Sugar Pine Foundation, and Turtle Island Restoration Network. He also makes regular donations to those organizations.
4. Rachel Bilchak
Palo Duro Hardwoods/Lägler NA
Rachel Bilchak started her career with Palo Duro Hardwoods and Lägler North America in May of 2018. Since then, she has shaped the company’s marketing approach by creating new websites, improving the social media appearance, and increasing company awareness throughout the wood flooring industry. She is involved in all aspects of the company beyond her role as marketing manager by contributing to sales, company strategies, and rebranding Palo Duro Hardwoods and Lägler North America over the last few years.
Prior to joining Palo Duro and Lägler, Bilchak held specialized roles in marketing, events, and journalism within the technology and entertainment industries. She earned Bachelor of Arts degrees in Communication and Chinese from The Ohio State University.
Outside of work responsibilities, Bilchak has lent a helping hand in city clean-ups and volunteered at various community art events.
5. Tito Boror
LOBASAND Brand Specialist
Tito Boror’s father and uncles introduced him to the flooring business at a very young age. After years of sanding floors alongside his father, Boror wanted to expand his knowledge base and began attending seminars and NWFA schools. After attending a Loba-Wakol training, he knew he could see himself working for the company. He ultimately came on board in 2017 as a sales professional for the New England market.
Since then, Boror has broadened his knowledge base by working in the Loba-Wakol technical department and specific Central American initiatives. In late 2020, he accepted the role of brand manager for LOBASAND, the company’s newest product category. While this has required significant investment and focus, he has accepted the challenge head-on.
Boror believes in showing young people the value of hard work and encourages them to choose flooring as a career path. He is actively involved with the NWFA and FCICA.
6. Michael Caldarera
Ron-Del Floor Service
Michael Caldarera has been working for Ron-Del Floor Service for the last 16 years. He is an NWFA Certified Installation Professional and Certified Sand & Finish Professional, as well as a Bona Certified Craftsman.
At Ron-Del, Caldarera handles all day-to-day operations for installation and sand and finish projects. This has included some extremely technical and unique projects. Those who work with him say he is always looking to improve his own skill level and willingly helps other local floor companies with challenges on a project or technical information.
Caldarera coordinates all the donations of materials from Ron-Del Floors to Habitat for Humanity. Outside of work, he and his wife of 10 years have three children, and he coaches a local youth baseball team. He also has helped with fundraising for cancer patients.
7. Martin Ceballos
East Coast Regional Sales Manager
After growing up in the family flooring business (REC Floors in Belleville, New Jersey) and graduating from Rutgers University, Martin Ceballos joined the Bona Professional sales team as territory manager for the New York/New Jersey tristate area in 2006. As senior territory manager, he coordinated and organized demo days to educate distributors, builders, and contractors on the features and benefits of Bona products.
In 2015, Ceballos was promoted to East Coast regional sales manager for the professional division focusing on sales and service. For many years, he also assisted as a panel instructor at various NWFA schools.
Over the years, Ceballos has devoted his personal time to translating training materials to assist Spanish-speaking contractors. Outside of the industry, he and his family are involved in supporting the St. Jude Foundation as well as local charities.
8. Brianna Chudej
National A&D Consultant
Woodwright Hardwood Floor Company
Brianna Chudej’s career in the wood flooring industry began in 2018 at a home design and remodeling company in Austin, Texas. She moved to Dallas and joined Woodwright’s sales team in 2020 in an inside sales support role.
Due to Chudej’s passion and perseverance, she quickly was promoted to an outside sales position, taking on the role of national A+D consultant. She travels the U.S., showcasing Woodwright’s custom capabilities to commercial architects and designers to get custom wood floors, wood walls, and wood stair treads specified on commercial projects. She also is the point of contact for the company’s relationships with Material Bank, Mortarr, and Mindful Materials.
Chudej obtained her Bachelor’s degree from Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas. She is involved with the Association of Professional Women in Construction (APWC).
9. Ashley Do Carmo
Brown Oaks Flooring
Mount Juliet, TN
Ashley Do Carmo had a career as a bank manager/financial specialist for 14 years before becoming business partner and CFO at Brown Oaks Flooring. She has transformed the company into a profitable operation by managing builder relationships and working with flooring distributors to improve quality and develop extended benefits to clients.
Do Carmo has managed some of the company’s largest contract jobs and grown sales beyond expectations. She manages helping homeowners, interior designers, and builders to attain their dream floors in every home the team touches.
Do Carmo is an advocate for children in the foster system in Wilson County, Tennessee. She and her husband, Jeff, sponsor several children in the foster care system to provide Christmas to them, ranging from just a few months old to those who are almost adults. She donates school supplies to children in the foster care system. Additionally, she has donated her time at the Salvation Army’s processing center for the Angel Tree program.
10. Jacob Durham
Durham Hardwood Floors
Winter Haven, FL
Jacob Durham began working in wood flooring directly out of high school. While he admits it was not love at first sight, as he became more involved with the trade, he realized it was his calling. He has spent the last decade expanding his knowledge and started his own company three years ago.
Durham Hardwood Floors handles installation and sanding and finishing, among other services. Durham says going into business for himself was the best thing he has ever done and believes it is incredibly rewarding to bring people’s homes back to life with wood flooring. His passion is for returning old, damaged wood floors to their original beauty.
He has been part of a group called “World Changers,” which would travel to do roofing projects and home repairs for people in need.
11. William Faircloth
William Faircloth is among the third generation of his family to join the industry, born into a rich heritage of lumber and forest products manufacturing. He serves as an operations adviser to T&S Hardwoods Inc. and is the co-founder/president of T&F Lumber Company LLC, a sister company to T&S Hardwoods. He led the charge in the formation of T&F Lumber Company, which primarily manufactures solid, unfinished hardwood flooring, as well as other value-added lumber and paneling products.
Faircloth earned a BBA with a double major in Supply Chain Management and Marketing. He is a graduate of the NHLA Inspector Training School and the Georgia Academy for Economic Development. He has volunteered his time to several economic development projects in his community. He and his company have donated time and materials to local schools and several organizations, such as the local chapter of the Future Farmers of America.
12. Anne-Marie Faucher
From her early summer jobs to working while studying for her Hospitality Management degree, Anne-Marie Faucher always has been involved in the family business. After spending a few years working for hotels and restaurants, she decided in 2008 to return full-time to PG Flooring.
Faucher has occupied many positions since, and slowly built her way to CEO of the company in August 2020. No matter what position she held, colleagues say she always was committed to the success of her team and the business.
Faucher has continued her family’s involvement in the community by sponsoring youth sports and local events, as well as providing supplies to local schools. She has volunteered her time for national celebrations and is closely involved with the Laura Lemerveil organization, which has a mission to help children with disabilities and their families.
13. Bobby Finch
Wood on Wheels Hardwood Flooring
Bobby Finch started in the flooring industry as a teenager. In 2011, he started Wood on Wheels Hardwood Flooring with a focus on creating a business full of respect, integrity, and taking the time necessary to create great work. Finch is a Bona Certified Craftsman and has completed extensive training with the NWFA.
Sustainability has always been at the forefront of Wood on Wheels. Finch says this made it an easy decision to plant a tree for every floor they install, working with the Arbor Day Foundation to make sure the trees go where needed most.
Wood on Wheels also works solely with FSC-forested hardwoods sourced from North America for all applicable species of flooring. He supports The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and Head for the Cure 5K Run/Walks, which raise funding for research and for brain cancer patients and families.
14. Seth Gladden
Director of Marketing
Before joining Taylor Adhesives, Seth Gladden worked as a regional sales manager for the world’s largest security and automation company, as a foreman in the North Dakota oil fields, and as a national account director for another flooring adhesive company.
Since then, as marketing director, he has accomplished a complete rebranding of the company. He also has initiated and driven product testing, leading to significant changes to Signature Line Wood Adhesives, and branded and marketed the new Timberline urethane wood adhesives product.
Gladden is a contributing editor for International Certified Flooring Installers Association’s (CFI) magazine, The Flooring Specialist. He also has had an active role in his church by serving in leadership, chairing its discipleship team, and helping with church marketing. For several years, he was the production director in charge of all aspects of the worship service audio and video staging experience. He has applied those skills at Taylor Adhesives in the development of the Taylor Time communications platform.
15. Paul Hinderliter
Nickel City Hardwood
Grand Island, NY
Paul Hinderliter began installing hardwood flooring as a side business before starting Nickel City Hardwood in 2016. Serving both commercial and residential, the hardwood flooring retail store’s revenue has doubled each year for the past five years. The flooring store was also named a 2021 “Best of 716” winner by the Buffalo News.
Hinderliter received his Bachelor of Business Administration from State University of New York College at Buffalo. Each year, he builds a lemonade stand with his kids and donates the profits to a children’s hospital. His involvement in the Special Olympics has included handing out ribbons, running in the torch run, and playing in softball games with the athletes. He also donates wood to the local schools for tech/shop classes.
Additionally, Nickel City Hardwood sponsors local youth sports teams and participates in multiple golf tournaments for a variety of charities.
16. Colt Kindall
Colt Kindall began his flooring career in 2010 at the age of 17. After a decade of perfecting his craft, he started his own company, Colt’s Contracting. Within a year, he was able to open his own showroom and second business, Boise Flooring Inc., where he sells his flooring on a retail scale.
The business now includes more than 12 employees, is one of the largest hardwood companies in the Boise metro area, and has a growing showroom for all types of hardwood flooring. Clients say Kindall’s approach to providing world-class customer service and his guidance through the selection process is second to none.
Kindall has sponsored local car racing events for kids at Meridian Speedway and the “Shop with a Cop” program for underprivileged youth. Colt’s Contracting has sponsored many non-profit agencies and youth sports leagues, as well as provided service and discounts to first responders.
17. Caitlyn Lambert
Top Step Vents
Caitlyn Lambert’s career history is short, but impressive. In 2020, she joined Top Step Vents, where she dove right in with product development, building the company’s website, and bringing new perspectives on style and implementation. Lambert worked with a few companies to pilot the product and helped with improving selling and logistics. Then, she coordinated Top Step Vents’ first booth for the 2021 NWFA Wood Flooring Expo in Orlando, Florida.
Since the age of 15, Lambert has been involved in the fitness industry. She coached classes and purchased a gym at the age of 21 after securing an investor. She later built a new facility and moved her gym from a 3,500-square-foot facility to one that was five times as large.
Lambert organizes charity events each year to raise money for those in need. Recently, one of these events raised $11,000 for an individual with a brain tumor.
18. Seth Lambert
Sand and Finish Foreman/Technician
Lambert Hardwood Flooring Inc.
Seth Lambert began as an installer at the age of 16. His talent for sand and finishing quickly was discovered. With a passion for learning, he constantly studies and learns about techniques, equipment, and chemicals, implementing them into his floors.
The processes he has developed have decreased the time it takes to complete a job, increased overall revenue by a third, and made callbacks almost non-existent. With his technical edge, he also is eager to help others in the industry solve problems.
On several occasions, Lambert has found out a previous client was in need of assistance, having lost a spouse, becoming disabled, or otherwise having a disaster impact their lives. As a response, he helped build elevator shafts or organized sales to help them earn money to cover costs. He has also donated his time and expertise to install floors for people in the community in need.
19. Tyler Lambert
Lambert Hardwood Flooring Inc.
Tyler Lambert has been joining his dad and uncles on jobsites since he could lift a hammer. Once he could drive, he started taking over jobs. He has since taken the company’s installs to the next level and brings speed and efficiency even on the most complex jobs.
His contributions to Lambert Hardwood Flooring have included bringing manufacturing into the company’s facility to match hard-to-find flooring and designing nosing he uses for engineered flooring staircases and other applications. He also learned to run the equipment needed to craft his company’s new line of flush mount vents.
Lambert’s colleagues say he has a practical outlook on community involvement – he notices a need around him and takes care of it. After a windstorm, he organized a company-wide clean-up crew. He built a wheelchair ramp and helped construct elevator shafts so individuals with disabilities could continue to live in their homes.
20. McLain Leberte
Crafted Supply Company
After working in the industry for several years as a sales and project manager, McLain Leberte founded Crafted Supply Company in 2018. Leberte’s approach to the industry leverages technology and a new-age customer service, providing luxury construction products to clients. His knowledge of the products, the manufacturing process, and the industry landscape has positioned the company for long-term success in Atlanta’s luxury hardwood flooring market.
Last year, Leberte spearheaded several fundraising events for Read First ATL, a program designed to provide one-on-one tutoring to kids at risk of dropping out of school due to insufficient reading levels. He provided tools, labor, and materials for building wooden crosses for local churches and families as a Christmas fundraiser for Read First ATL. As a former college golfer, Leberte also mentors several young golfers who aspire to become collegiate athletes.
21. Whit Lovinggood
Western Regional Sales Manager
Whit Lovinggood’s connection to wood comes naturally. He grew up surrounded by all forms of wood – sawdust, logs, and planks as his family owned and operated a mill. Currently, he is a regional sales manager at Aacer Flooring. During the pandemic, he has developed alternative and creative strategies for his customers. Previously, he was a top sales producer for Howell Hardwood Flooring, where he was instrumental in creating programs in unfinished and prefinished categories.
To better understand the different levels within the trade industry, Lovinggood is a member of many hardwood flooring groups on social media platforms.
Lovinggood volunteers time in his community as a mentor to youth and adults with addiction issues. In addition to his favorite role of husband and father, he also likes to golf, watch college football, and
22. Angie McCaw
A born-and-raised Seattle-ite, Angie McCaw has been interested in the home improvement industry since she was a child. She has gone from working in the store, helping with installs, staining, scraping, and finishing hardwood floors to purchasing Mac’s Flooring and moving it to a new location.
Mac’s Flooring now carries more than 30 manufacturers and is growing thanks to the dedication of McCaw and her team. They take pride in having the knowledge to share with their customers to help them decide on flooring for their home or project.
Recently, McCaw helped obtain flooring for a center that serves unhoused people in the community. It is a space where these individuals can get out of the weather, shower, and access resources. She says being able to help was rewarding, and she looks forward to working with other non-profits and community outreach programs.
23. Crystal McKenzie
Director of HR
Graf Brothers Flooring
South Shore, KY
Growing up in the wood industry (her father and uncle are the owners of Graf Brothers Flooring), Crystal McKenzie will tell you that she has “sawdust in her veins.” Officially with Graf Brothers Flooring for more than 15 years, she is instrumental in bringing many programs, new ideas, and new policies and procedures as the human resources director, managing hundreds of employees throughout the company’s multiple locations.
McKenzie attributes her success to her father and uncle, and says she would not be where she is today without their compassion, knowledge, and leadership. Graf Brothers Flooring has won the Kentucky Employers’ Mutual Insurance (KEMI) Destiny Award for workplace safety numerous times.
Along with her husband and two children, McKenzie volunteers much of her time to the local Catholic community. You can find her serving on the board of St. Francis Catholic Outreach Center, cooking during fundraisers, and taking stats courtside during girls’ basketball season.
24. Cori McMillan
RaeCor Enterprises Ltd.
Medicine Hat, Alberta
Cori McMillan started her career at the age of 16 and has made entrepreneurship and trades a central part of who she is ever since. After building her resume with experience in HVAC, drywall, flooring, and concrete, she took a brief hiatus to work within the government and start her own business.
In 2016, she came on as a partner with RaeCor. She doubled RaeCor’s hardwood opportunities while unifying the team and setting high standards for hardwood in the area.
Not only does McMillan live out her passion for small business and women in trades at work, but she also is the vice chair for Women in Business Medicine Hat and a member of the Medicine Hat Women in Construction Committee. She mentors women who are thinking about the trades, speaks at events for students, and acts as a mentor for newer staff members.
25. Chad Mildram
Senior Territory Manager
Chad Mildram has worked at Praters Inc. for more than 16 years. He began as a crew member on the road, screening, sanding, painting, and finishing floors all over the Southeast. When Praters moved into the portable basketball court world, Mildram was there to assist.
From Japan to Turkey to Mexico, he has traveled the world to work on hardwood basketball courts. He has worked on courts for the Olympics, the Final Four, the National Basketball Association (NBA), and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA). He plays an integral role in the day-to-day success at Praters Inc.
Mildram has donated his personal time to help out many schools that could not afford to pay for repairs to their courts. He specifically donated his time and labor to screen and recoat a local YMCA that was in this situation.
26. Ben Mitchell
Director of Sales
Metropolitan Hardwood Floors
Ben Mitchell’s career began by working for a large Washington state dealer before joining the Metropolitan team in 2012. Starting in Minnesota with just an unheated storage space for his samples, he quickly grew his territory to what now encompasses two warehouses and seven reps that cover at least seven states.
Appreciating his energy and enthusiasm, Metropolitan has appointed him the new national director of U.S. sales and asked him to return home to Seattle. He also is an NWFA Certified Sales Advisor.
An avid golfer, Mitchell never misses a chance to participate in charity tournaments, most recently the Salute to Servicewomen Golf Classic. He also is a strong supporter of the Builders Association of the Twin Cities (BATC) Foundation. Colleagues say he is a natural bridge-builder and will always roll up his sleeves for the greater good, never asking what is in it for him.
27. Carlos Mongalo
National Flooring Contractors Apprenticeship Program
Carlos Mongalo became a second-generation flooring contractor after assisting his father in developing and patenting glow-in-the-dark wood flooring. He founded the National Flooring Contractors Apprenticeship Program (NFCAP) to promote the flooring trades to students, returning citizens, and foster children, and provides them with the opportunity to own their own business after completing the program. The organization recently announced a partnership with LL Flooring to help address the need for flooring contractors and advance the profession.
After graduating college, Mongalo served as a youth pastor at his church. He spent time in China to develop the supply chain for Glowry Boards, a glow-in-the-dark drawing board for children on the Autism spectrum. He also partnered with STOA International Architects to develop a national social housing project for Ecuador.
28. Zach Muhl
Allegheny Mountain Hardwood Flooring
While in college, Zach Muhl started working at Allegheny Mountain Hardwood Flooring’s plant, working summers and holidays, as he studied marketing and management at Butler Community College. He moved over to sales in 2018, and has shown great interest in learning all aspects of hardwood floors, always going above and beyond what is asked of him.
He has helped grow sales by more than 40 percent, and consistently receives wonderful reviews from his customers. Those reviews may be attributed to his strong ability to build relationships with new customers and maintain them as they do business together.
In the community, Muhl helps organize an annual softball tournament for all ages, which raises money for Perry Township, where he grew up. He spends his free time outdoors camping, snowboarding, archery hunting, and fishing the Allegheny River.
29. Alex Oster
Natural Choice Floors
Olmsted Falls, OH
Alex Oster focuses on the quality of craftsmanship. He is an NWFA Certified Installer, NWFA Certified Sand & Finish Professional, and became a Bona Certified Craftsman three years ago. His company, Natural Choice Wood Floors, has specialized in hardwood floor refinishing, installation, and repairs since it began in 2016.
Oster has contributed to his community by sanding and finishing local historical buildings and businesses. He works with numerous builders and has established himself as a reliable business owner within the community. He and his wife currently are remodeling The Peter Kidney House in Olmsted Falls. Built in 1833, they are upgrading it to a “homey river spot” and sharing the process and the history of the house along the way on Instagram.
30. Luis Ramos
VP of Sales and Marketing
Absolute Hardwood Flooring
West Palm Beach, FL
During his time at Absolute Hardwood Flooring, Luis Ramos has more than doubled the company’s annual revenue. In his role as VP of sales and marketing, Ramos manages other sales representatives and support staff. He also is active in guiding the marketing efforts of Absolute Hardwood Flooring to South Florida contractors, real estate agents, and the interior design community.
Ramos works to educate the local architect and design community about hardwood flooring. Colleagues say he is an innovative thinker, a gifted networker, and is committed to the satisfaction of his clients.
Ramos is active in various building organizations throughout Southern Florida. He always is willing to participate in and contribute to local charities, and has volunteered his time coaching youth sports. He also is a devoted husband and father of four (soon to be five).
31. Todd Saunders
Todd Saunders began his professional career at Google, leading a team focused on helping small and medium-sized businesses grow using Google ads. He left Google and started a tech company named Adhawk that was focused on helping start-ups and small businesses leverage Google to grow.
In 2018, Saunders made the decision to focus all of the company’s resources on moving the flooring industry forward, so Adhawk acquired FloorForce and Creating Your Space. Today the parent company name has been changed from Adhawk to Broadlume. With more than 120 employees, it is the largest technology company in the flooring industry.
Saunders has been involved heavily with the foster kids program, and has spent time mentoring less-fortunate kids about start-ups and technology. Colleagues say he goes above and beyond in his role at FloorForce to help flooring dealers adopt technology outside of the company’s suite of products.
32. Megan Sherman
Durham Hardwood Floors
Winter Haven, FL
Before opening Durham Hardwood Floors three years ago with her fiancé, Jacob Durham, Megan Sherman had been in the customer service industry. At the start, she was doing the books and handling customer relations and scheduling. During that time, she was learning the trade and soon found herself running the machines. Sherman quickly fell in love with the craft and wanted more. Today, she is passionate about both creating beautiful floors and building great customer relationships.
Sherman also is an artist outside of her wood flooring work. She participates in the Artisan Collective for Yemen, a partnership with the International Rescue Committee to raise funds for feeding starving children in Yemen. For this fundraiser, a group of artists donated their art with all proceeds going to Yemen, and the International Rescue Committee would match the donation. Sherman gave 20 of her paintings to the cause. The group raised enough funds to feed nearly 12,000 children.
33. Rachel Simpson
Director of Operations
Greenwood Village, CO
During Rachel Simpson’s eight years in the flooring industry, she has grown from a part-time customer service representative to the full-time director of operations. Her focus on learning the company, its model, and its goals helped Simpson to meet the goals she had in growing her own role.
While it may not always be easy to navigate through the emotions of home improvement projects, Simpson has always maintained her standards of integrity and hard, honest work. As director of operations, she sits on the executive team with Footprints Floors. She enjoys being part of leadership decisions and supporting so many employees and franchisees, in addition to supporting Footprints Floors in doubling its company-wide sales revenue from 2020 to 2021.
While Simpson is a very busy mom of three young children, she has volunteered at their family’s church to aid teachers in classrooms, specifically focused on the faith formation of young children.
34. Veronica Skowron
Sales and Service Manager
Atlas Floors Inc.
Veronica Skowron hails from a family business with more than 40 years of experience and knowledge in hardwood flooring. As sales and service manager, she provides direction on elements that help design teams set the tone for client satisfaction, ensuring they have the information they need to make the right decisions. She has spent her career delivering value to residential developers while elevating the entire wood flooring experience for buyers.
Skowron plays an active role in consulting with many small mills and manufacturing education programs across the globe. She is a Bona Certified Craftsman and has traveled to several plants and factories for extensive hands-on training, including Bona, Loba-Wakol, Pallmann, and Rubio Monocoat. She also has traveled to Lägler in Germany and Mercier in Canada.
35. Derek Swegle
Hardwood Floor Specialist
Habitat Hardwood Floors
Panama City, FL
As a teenager, Derek Swegle would help his older brother, Dusty, with wood flooring jobs on the weekends. He ended up working full-time for him until 2019, when Swegle moved to Florida to start Habitat Hardwood Floors.
He credits his brother with teaching him everything he knows about the wood flooring trade. Now, Swegle is an NWFA Certified Installation Professional and says education will never stop for him. He works side-by-side with his wife, Amanda, and together they help educate builders, architects, designers, and contractors in the community about the sustainability and benefits of hardwood floors.
Even when Swegle cannot take on a proposed project, he still takes the time to answer questions and help clients find a solution. On social media platforms, he explains products and techniques he uses to help other contractors. He also is active in the community and in various charities.
36. Matthew Szyszka
Hardwood Floor Specialist
Floor Master Company
Des Plaines, IL
From his early years at wood technology school in Poland, Matthew Szyszka was fascinated with the industry. He began as a hardwood floor specialist in 2010 and opened his own company in 2019. He recently has been attending a wide variety of manufacturer trainings to provide the highest quality to clients and learn the newest trends and techniques. He is passionate about custom hardwood floor installations and believes in diving deeper into the sea of flooring possibilities to generate new ideas.
Szyszka and his wife volunteer for The Greatest Orchestra of Christmas Charity. This Polish non-profit organization collects funds for pediatric and elderly care. Every January, he and his wife collect money in the Polish stores and outside events and donate to the organization. Overall, the organization collected more than 210 million PLN in Poland and approximately $171,000 in Chicago.
37. Lance Takehara
Paradise Flooring Hawaii
Lance Takehara left a successful career as a civil engineer to pursue his passion for business and entrepreneurship as the owner of Paradise Flooring. He quickly found that his technical training, project management and customer service skills applied to the hardwood flooring industry.
He has transformed the company into one of Hawaii’s leading retailers, recognized for in-depth product knowledge, professionalism, and excellent service.
Throughout his life, Takehara has always valued environmental stewardship and giving back to the community. In his previous role as an engineer and a LEED Accredited Professional, he was chairman of the Young Professionals chapter of the Hawaii Water and Environment Association. He participated in many community service events ranging from beach clean-ups to public outreach. Takehara also has partnered with many non-profit organizations across the community, including foundations, schools, and churches, assisting them with their flooring needs.
38. Travis Thompson
Travis Thompson graduated from West Virginia University with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and then began his career at Armstrong World Industries as a mechanical engineer. He currently is a plant engineer at AHF Products’ Beverly, West Virginia, facility.
During his career, he has focused primarily on capital project management, with an emphasis on maintaining and expanding the operations of solid and engineered wood flooring manufacturing. Most recently, he led the engineering efforts on a multi-million-dollar project that expanded the engineered flooring operation capabilities in Somerset, Kentucky, to include Dogwood, a densified wood flooring technology.
Thompson enjoys volunteering with the Mountain State Forest Festival, an annual event occurring in his hometown with roots dating back to the 1930s. He also volunteers at the local animal shelter walking dogs and enjoys outdoor activities and traveling, working on his goal to visit every state in the U.S. (32 states so far).
39. Brent Walter
The Flooring Guy
Brent Walter started his flooring career with determination, a commitment to quality, and a borrowed truck. Today he has grown The Flooring Guy to include 10 employees and a fleet of vans.
With more than 15 years of experience in the floor covering industry, Walter is an NWFA Certified Sand & Finish Professional and a Bona Certified Craftsman. His work ranges from high-end residential to commercial applications to the sand and finish of a historic basketball court. His business has grown from his garage to a state-of-the-art showroom that is focused on site-finished solid flooring. He is proud that his wife, Bronwyn, is an integral part of the business, too.
Walter has donated time, labor, technical support and advice, along with materials, to help those in need in his community. His company also donates a part of its profits to various charities.
40. Chris Williams
Horizon Forest Products
Chris Williams began his career in the wood industry right out of college. He has risen in the ranks at Horizon Forest Products, going from warehouse to sales to management. As the leader of the Raleigh, North Carolina branch (one of the biggest branches within the organization), he is constantly at the top of the group.
His awards have included Prefinished Branch of the Year in 2020, Branch of the Year in 2019, and Branch Manager of the Year in 2019, 2018, and 2017. He graduated from East Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Management.
Colleagues say Williams has a huge heart and always is willing to help those around him. He serves in his wife’s ministry called Est/Her, which serves women who are at-risk or have been abused by giving them opportunities to grow, heal, and find restoration. He has been to Belize several times on mission trips and continues to serve as a board member of the organization.
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