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Floor Coverings International of Madison

Franchisee trades heavy equipment for Berber and bamboo.

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After working around heavy equipment for 27 years, including 21 years in sales, local franchisee Hubie Durst, 50, decided to start a new career in a softer industry. “I was just burned out,” he said, “and wanted to do something different.”

He attended a Milwaukee franchise show, then worked with a franchise coach who introduced him to Floor Coverings International (FCI), a Georgia-based company. Durst liked the company’s representatives and the fact that the franchise didn’t demand high overhead.

After further research, he bought in, spending $45,000 of his own money for the initial franchise fee, which encompasses most of Dane County’s ZIP codes, and another $32,000 for a business start-up package that provided the flooring samples and necessary computer programs. He found and bought a used Chevy Equinox and covered it with a logo wrap – also included in the start-up price – and launched Floor Coverings International of Madison in August 2011.

The business brings a mobile flooring showroom into customers’ homes, from carpeting to tile, wood, and laminates. During a home visit, customers can lay samples on their own floors, view a computer rendering of what their room would look like with different flooring options, and at the end of the visit, receive a proposal. “We don’t get final payment until we do a final walk-through and everyone’s happy,” Durst said.

FCI’s customers are in large part residential, but Durst says he’s also been working with light commercial accounts, builders, general contractors – anyone needing flooring. He subcontracts the flooring installers, and currently works with about four different teams.

Durst has a 700-sq.-ft. showroom on Madison’s west side that operates by appointment only, and a small warehouse. “I really don’t stock anything,” he said. Flooring comes in as ordered, and the installers move it out just as quickly. 

He employs one full-time employee, a design associate, and hopes to hire a project coordinator soon. “At that point, if I want to cut out on a Tuesday afternoon, I’ll have things in place,” he said. It’s all part of his plan. “This can provide me a type of lifestyle where I don’t need to be the business. I can run and manage it rather than some franchises, where you’re so involved that it can’t run without you.”

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