Nelson Green, owner of Great Southeast Flooring America, grew up in Central Florida. When he graduated from the University of Florida, his first job was in advertising for Armstrong, a major flooring manufacturer in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Green wanted to move back to Florida, and knew the only way he was going to be able to do so was to switch fields or do something on his own. So he took a risk, borrowed some money from family and moved back to open his first store on Highland Avenue in 1979. The company quickly outgrew that location and moved into the old theater in Eau Gallie. Then, again growing so fast, he built a bigger facility on North Harbor City Boulevard. This family-owned business has now been there since 1987.
We’re always growing
Green’s son Chris said, “What helped us out in 1979 was that literally a month or two after we opened, Hurricane David came through. We had a ‘flood’ of business, which was unfortunate for many, but fortunate for us. It just snowballed from there, with the advertising that dad has consistently done over the years. He’s very big on it and makes sure his brand is out there consistently. Even during the lean years when the economy was bad, we didn’t lose a whole lot of our business. I think that’s because we didn’t stop advertising, we didn’t cut back, we kept our name out there. During that time, a lot of people came in and said, ‘You’re the only ones out there advertising. That’s why
Continued marketing has always worked very well for Great Southeast Flooring America. They had a record year, their biggest year ever, a non-hurricane year, in 2015.
Chris Green joined the business in ‘92. He was 22 years old, out of school and needed a job. “I was fortunate to have something to fall back on. I learned this business from the ground up,” he said. “I’ve done everything. I’ve worked with installers when I was in high school during the summers. I’ve swept the warehouse floors. I’ve worked in the warehouse. I’ve done pretty much all the positions in the office. I’ve done sales. I’ve done everything, and it eventually evolved into managing and helping my father out.”
Zach Green, Chris’ younger brother who also works in the business, added, “It makes you appreciate everybody’s position within the company, and how hard and difficult each job can be. You learn first-hand the challenges that they run into
Working with homeowners
Chris Green says, “Our preference is to work with the homeowner. We can control the scheduling and we can guide them and help them pick the right products. They come looking for advice; they want better products, typically, and it’s a better result for all of us. We want them to be satisfied and taken care of. That’s the goal, and we pride ourselves on that.”
Building on their success, even through the tough, national economic downturn, Great Southeast Flooring America has always looked to the future. When asked about expansion, Chris Green said, “We’re going to stay a single location for now. Within the next year, we’re going to remodel again. We did our last big remodel in 2004, so it’s time to update our showrooms.”
Zach Green added, “We’re seeing a little bit of a trend flip right now. As much as people love hardwoods and how beautiful they look and how natural they are, the high-definition imaging on ceramic tile and in vinyl right now is giving people the ability to get the exact same look as wood and to not have to worry about moisture problems.”
“I’m very, very proud of what my dad has built with very limited knowledge in the beginning,” Chris Green said. “He’s built a great business, and we’re constantly evolving, we’re constantly learning, we’re constantly changing. Every day we’re learning something new within our business to try to make it better. That’s what our goal is. I feel like we have taken it to the next level as far as how big we’ve become. It’s a testament to what he started.”