Loss Leads to New Strength

Ron’s Carpets
by Scott Rogers

For 18 years, the staff of Ron’s Carpets has served the flooring needs of central Illinois as a family, albeit not without some considerable hardships. Ron’s Carpets is a retail floor covering store that carries area rugs, carpeting, ceramic and porcelain, laminate flooring, vinyl and resilient flooring, and wood floors. Currently owned by Carol Hayse, and originally founded by Carol and her husband Ron, this is one family business that has had to deal with the most difficult type of loss.

Extending a Lifelong Dream
“That was [Ron’s] lifelong dream—to have a store,” said Carol. Formerly an independent flooring installer, Ron Hayse used his considerable knowledge to develop a flooring store that would meet the demands of its customers, while bringing family into the workplace. “I worked part-time with him until we grew it a little bit, and then I quit my job and came down,” said Carol. “And then five years into it, he passed away.”

That untimely tragedy left Carol and her son, John Vollrath, to decide whether to carry on with the business. Fortunately, Ron had already begun teaching John everything he knew about the business before he passed, making the transition somewhat easier. “Ron was a very good teacher,” said Carol. “He had taught John a lot, and so he took over the operations end, and I took over the financial end. Together, we decided we were going to succeed, and we made it work and grew the business.” To honor his legacy, they chose to keep Ron’s name on the business, a decision that has made his name synonymous with success on a number of levels.

Recognizing Excellence
Ron’s Carpets has achieved local, statewide and even national recognition. Earlier this year, Carol received the Better Business Bureau Torch Award for Business Integrity, and last year she was named Member of the Year by the central Illinois chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners. Ron’s Carpets was also selected as one of the Top 100 Women-Owned Businesses in Illinois by Diversity.com in both 2009 and 2010. The business has even been involved in network television, as it supplied and installed carpet and laminate for the Grys family home in Pekin on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition in 2008.

“Today, as I look at what Ron’s Carpets has become, I see a business that is truly making a difference,” said Carol, “because of those operating values that were in place from day one.” The business pulsates with a kind of quiet confidence, and the recognition it has received is a credit to their respect for the customer. “When we first started, we decided that we were going to have a loyalty-based business and a relationship-based business,” said Carol. “When [customers] walk in the door, we find out their needs, their budget…and we communicate with them.”

The Family Bond
That attitude—derived straight from the family—has kept the doors of Ron’s Carpets open for nearly two decades. Yet when they’re at work, Carol’s actual family takes on a different role. Carol and John, along with Carol’s sister-in-law, Annette Trowbridge, find a way to separate whatever family conflicts might arise among them for the betterment of the business. “When we’re here at work, we’re not family,” said Carol. “When we walk out the door, then we’re family again. We don’t let our personal issues come into the business.”

Still, Carol realizes that the family bond is the driving force behind her success. “We’re all on the same page, where we want the business to succeed and grow,” said Carol. “We all take pride and ownership in it because our names are on it.” Somewhere up above, Ron Hayse is looking down and smiling, a very proud man. iBi

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