Dave Griggs Flooring America won’t sell anything to a married man without written permission from his wife.
“She has a vision, and we work to extrapolate that vision and earn her trust,” Dave Griggs says. “It’s all about building relationships. We want your children and grandchildren to buy flooring from us.”
For 40 years Dave Griggs Flooring America has evolved in its industry while retaining a commitment to customer, employee and community relationships.
The story began in 1967, when Griggs and his brother were building houses. A recession in 1968 forced him to look for additional work, and he landed at Cook Paint, where he moved into management by 1969 to fill a void.
“We had a manager leave the store in Mexico, [Missouri], and I was asked to hold down the fort,” Griggs says. “I held it down for three years.”
After working in the Columbia store through the early ’70s, Griggs wrote to his boss asking for a raise.
“I sent it through inter-office mail because we didn’t have email back then,” Griggs says. “After not hearing anything for a few weeks, I figured he wasn’t going to give me the raise.”
Not knowing his boss was on vacation, Griggs purchased the building down the street and started selling paint before moving into flooring. The business has grown and moved to larger locations throughout Columbia. Part of the growth was developing his brand, including the Dave Griggs TV ads featuring “Mr. Biggs.”
“We had a friend who had a child that could not say ‘Griggs,’” he says. “He would always say he wanted to ride in Mr. Biggs’ boat. The rest is history.”
‘We set expectations’
Two national chains moved to Columbia in the mid-1990s and forced Griggs to rethink his business model. He focused on a carrying a wider selection of higher-end flooring products, building relationships with flooring franchises and being part of the largest flooring co-op in the world.
“We would not be in business today without being part of a national organization,” Griggs says.
Griggs’ commitment to his customers is based on honesty and trust. The Internet may show how flooring is going to look but not what the process is going to be like: the noise, the dust and how the floor will fit into your world.
“We tell people the good and the bad; we set expectations,” Griggs says. “We also tell you if the pine floor you want is going to be too soft. Your wife’s heels will leave a mark with every step in a soft floor.”
Griggs knows not everyone is going to buy from him today, but he’s confident they will refer him or come to see him for another project down the road because of his experienced sales team and the knowledge they carry.
Michele Batye, Dave Griggs Flooring America’s financial officer, says the average employee tenure is more than 13 years, and Griggs has given employees a place to stay while the business grows.
“We have four designers on staff, and we started with one,” she says. “We are a lot of different businesses under one roof doing about 40 percent residential [business] and 60 percent commercial [business].”
‘You come to see Dave Griggs’
The product mix at Dave Griggs Flooring America has enabled Griggs to keep employees busy and build relationships. Griggs’ position as chairman and board member of Columbia Regional Economic Development Inc., the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, Columbia Optimist Club and the Northern County Commission, along with being Boone County born and raised, has given him the local ties national retailers don’t have.
Dave Griggs Flooring America, located at 801 Business Loop 70 E. in Columbia, houses a showroom, retail space for the independent contractor and recycling center.
“We recycle carpet cushioning and pay installers for the used cushion,” Griggs said. “We have kept 120 semi loads of foam out of landfills.”
Dave Griggs Flooring America projects can be found throughout the region, including the Golden Girls Gymnastics Facility, U.S. Army Reserve Center, Fayette High School Gym and the J.C. Penney in the Columbia Mall.
“When you think about flooring, want to see what is going in the flooring business, you come see Dave Griggs,” he says.