Diamond Certified Companies are Rated Highest in Quality and Helpful Expertise.

  • Why this rating is the most accurate.
  • Our editors gather deep company info.
  • Performance is Guaranteed.

DIAMOND CERTIFIED EXPERT CONTRIBUTORS IN THE Bay Area – Carpet Showrooms CATEGORY

Rick Stein is co-owner of Just Remnants, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (415) 523-7797 or by email.

Rick Stein

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Rick Stein: A Flooring Focus

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SAN RAFAEL — Having come from a multifaceted professional background, Rick Stein established his long-term livelihood by focusing on one particular aspect. “When I was younger, I worked for my family’s business, which handled design, supply and installation for hotel renovations,” he recounts. “I always felt drawn to the flooring aspect—I enjoyed the creativity and problem-solving it involved. Eventually, I decided to pursue a career in the flooring industry and opened Just Remnants in 1991. I was able to utilize my prior experience to get commercial contracts, but I also brought in a residential component. Today, we continue to provide for the flooring needs of residential and commercial clients alike.”

Today, as co-owner of Just Remnants, Rick says his favorite part of his job is making customers happy. “I love seeing the finished product, but most of all I enjoy pleasing my customers. Every time we get a good review from a happy customer, it feels very gratifying to know we’re doing things right.”

A resident of Richmond (where he lives with his wife, Olga), Rick spends his time outside of work on a variety of active pastimes. “I enjoy Latin dance, practicing Qigong [a Chinese martial art similar to Tai chi], swimming and watching baseball,” he details. “I also like to read and take it easy—anything that balances out the intensity of work.”

In regard to a professional philosophy, Rick says real customer service goes beyond mere politeness. “For me, taking care of customers means not only listening to them and treating them fairly, but also coming up with solutions for their problems. After all, you may treat your clients with politeness and respect, but if you can’t offer them practical solutions regarding design or installation, what’s the point? That’s why we always go the extra mile to make sure our customers get exactly what they’re looking for.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Rick says he’d sleep in. “As a flooring contractor, my workday starts pretty early in the morning. After so many years of getting up early, it would be a real joy to sleep in for a change.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite baseball team?

A: The Los Angeles Dodgers.

Q: What kinds of books do you like to read?

A: Real estate is a passion of mine, so I read a lot of books on that topic.

Q: What’s your favorite snack?

A: Strawberries

Q: What kinds of music do you like?

A: I like all kinds of music, from rock to jazz to R&B.

Q: If you could immediately master a musical instrument, what would you choose?

A: Piano.

Read more

Considerations for Hard Surface Flooring

Shares

Hard surface flooring is an increasingly popular segment of the flooring industry, with more and more homeowners choosing products like prefinished hardwood and vinyl plank. However, when considering this style of flooring, it’s important to assess specific conditions in your… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Installation Factors for Hard Flooring

Shares
Complete Video Transcription:

SAN RAFAEL — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you’re planning to install a hard surface flooring product in your home, there are some important factors you’ll need to consider… Read more

Liam Caldwell is president of Armstrong Carpet & Linoleum Co., a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (415) 754-3955 or by email.

Liam Caldwell

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Liam Caldwell: Homegrown Talent

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SAN FRANCISCO — When Liam Caldwell started working at Armstrong Carpet & Linoleum Co. as a teenager, he hadn’t the slightest notion that he’d one day be president of the company. “I started here when I was 15, working after school and on weekends,” he remembers. “I did everything from making deliveries to binding carpets and making pads. Even after I went to college, I would return every summer and work at the store.”

After graduating, Liam figured it was time to move on to a new career, but a simple phone call disrupted his plans. “I was considering career options when Steve Balestrieri, the owner of Armstrong, called me out of the blue,” he recounts. “He told me they were looking to expand and needed some help with sales and marketing, and he asked if I’d be interested in coming on full-time. I’d always liked working for Steve and didn’t have anything else on the horizon, so I accepted the offer.” In 2018, 25 years after he first started working there as a teenager, Liam assumed ownership of the company from Mr. Balestrieri upon his retirement.

Today, Liam says his favorite part of his job is delivering customer satisfaction. “I enjoy connecting people with the right products, providing quality service and hearing from happy customers at the end of the job. When a customer calls to tell me that we over-delivered and did an excellent job, that’s a real feather in my cap.”

A resident of Brisbane, Liam spends most of his free time doing activities with his daughters, Nia and Aya. “We enjoy going to minor league baseball games, visiting the Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco and going hiking on San Bruno Mountain,” he details. “I’ve also done a fair amount of youth sports coaching. I coached Nia’s soccer team and I’ll probably end up coaching Aya’s team at some point when she’s older.”

In regard to his professional career, Liam says running a successful business involves a twofold dynamic. “As the owner of a company, I need to make sure that both my customers and employees are happy. It’s unfortunate how a lot of big-box stores subcontract everything and treat their labor like it’s a commodity. The reality is, if the people who work for you aren’t happy or invested in the company, they aren’t going to treat customers as well or be as diligent in their work, which means you’re going to end up with unhappy customers. That’s why I always make sure to address both sides of the equation.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: Did you play any sports in high school?

A: I was too short for basketball, so I had to play soccer.

Q: If you could take a vacation tomorrow, where would you go?

A: I’d probably go on an Alaskan cruise.

Q: Music or talk radio?

A: I’m about 50/50. I absolutely love music, but I’m also a talk radio junkie—it just depends on my mood and where I am.

Q: What’s your favorite snack?

A: Anything with peanut butter in it.

Q: What was your favorite toy as a child?

A: It’s a tie between G.I. Joe and He-Man.

Read more

Window Coverings That Optimize Light Control

Shares

SAN FRANCISCO — There are several factors to consider when choosing window coverings, from style and material to functionality and even safety. However, perhaps the most significant of all these factors is light control. After all, if you have a beautiful… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: A Crucial Aspect of Window Covering Selection

Shares
Complete Video Transcription:

SAN FRANCISCO — Host, Sarah Rutan: When selecting window coverings for your home, there’s one specific aspect you’ll want to keep in mind. Today we’re in San Francisco… Read more

Leigh Bakhtiari is a 26-year veteran of the flooring industry and president of City Carpets, a Diamond Certified company since 2009. She can be reached at (415) 493-8934 or by email.

Leigh Bakhtiari

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Leigh Bakhtiari: Flooring Fashion

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SAN RAFAEL — After two decades in the floor covering industry, Leigh Bakhtiari continues to employ her passion for fashion by beautifying her customers’ homes. “I approach each job with the goal of making things as fashionable as possible while simultaneously providing a durable, high-performance product,” she says. “When I first got into this business, it was actually pretty boring—every carpet was basically beige and cut pile. There are many more options available today, which makes my job a lot more fun.”

Despite having family ties to the floor covering industry, the primary catalyst for Leigh’s long-term involvement was actually her husband’s. “My husband, Hossein, and I each have a family connection to the floor covering industry, which is kind of coincidental because it has nothing to do with how we met,” she explains. “When we first met, I was working at Macy’s and he was working for his sister in the floor covering industry. After we got married, he suggested we open our own floor covering business, which we did in 1993. More than 20 years later, a lot has changed: we now have five kids and two floor covering stores!”

A lifetime resident of Mill Valley, Leigh expresses her appreciation for the natural beauty of her native locale. “I love it in the Bay Area. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel all over and I’ve never found a better place. I love all the open spaces, as well as the short distance to the beach and the mountains. Within a four-hour driving radius, you can go surfing or skiing, which is pretty remarkable.”

Outside of work, Leigh enjoys spending time with her family, both locally and abroad. “Besides hanging out together at home and around town, we love to travel together as a family,” she affirms. “In fact, we recently got back from a trip to the Dominican Republic.” Leigh also enjoys skiing, martial arts, following professional sports and going on walks with her dog, Gus. Additionally, she maintains an active participation in her industry by serving as president of her local floor covering association and regional network coordinator for Carpet One, as well as sitting on numerous advisory councils.

In regard to her professional livelihood, Leigh espouses the importance of treating customers fairly and honestly. “I try to treat my customers as if they were friends and family,” she explains. “That’s one of the reasons I feel it’s important to carry products I truly believe in. There are a lot of options out there, but I never want to sell a customer anything I wouldn’t sell to a friend or family member.”

When asked the first thing she’d do if she were to retire tomorrow, Leigh gives a twofold response. “I’d take a nap and then take a trip,” she laughs. “After that, I’d devote some of my extra time to volunteering, probably for a cause that benefits children or animals.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: Africa. I’d love to go on a safari and see animals in their natural element.

Q: If you could live in the city or the country, which would you choose?
A: The country. Cities make me claustrophobic, and I like being close to nature.

Q: What was your first pet?
A: A big, black mutt named Alfie. She was beautiful.

Q: What’s your favorite style of music?
A: As a child of the ’80s, I love my throwback music.

Q: What’s your favorite holiday?
A: Thanksgiving, because I enjoy cooking and spending time with my family. We spend the entire day preparing everything from scratch, set a beautiful table and then enjoy a great meal at the end.

Read more

The Truth About Carpet and Indoor Air Quality

Shares

SAN RAFAEL — It’s often assumed that carpet diminishes indoor air quality, but this isn’t necessarily the case. In fact, studies conducted by The Carpet and Rug Institute show that carpet may actually have the opposite effect and improve indoor air quality.… Read more

Choosing a Quality Carpet Fiber

Shares

SAN RAFAEL — Everyone knows style and color are important factors for choosing a new carpet. However, a lesser-known yet equally important factor is the type of fiber it’s composed of. A carpet’s fiber affects everything from appearance to cleanability, which… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Carpet Cleaning Frequency

Shares
Complete Video Transcription:

SAN RAFAEL — Host, Sarah Rutan: To maximize the lifespan of your carpet, it’s important to know the recommended intervals for maintenance measures like vacuuming and steam cleaning.… Read more

Steve Villa is president of Rafael Floors, Abbey Carpet Center, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (415) 669-4944 or by email.

Steve Villa

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Steve Villa: An Unlikely Ascent

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SAN RAFAEL — Few people go from sweeping floors to managing operations at the same company, but Steve Villa did that and then some. “I started at Rafael Floors back in high school,” he remembers. “Ron Leach, the original owner, was my next-door neighbor, and he offered me a job in his warehouse. I would come in every day after school and sweep the floors, run errands, and make deliveries. From there, I became an apprentice installer and continued to work part-time through college. After graduating with a degree in business administration, I returned full-time as an administrative assistant. Later, I went into sales and did that for about 14 years until Ron made me a partner in 2005. When he retired in 2015, I took over as sole owner of the business.”

Today, as owner of Rafael Floors, Abbey Carpet Center, Steve says his favorite part of his job is helping customers find the right products for their needs. “Choosing a new floor can be challenging for people, especially since it’s both an expensive and semi-permanent decision. For that reason, I enjoy educating our customers about their options and helping them make wise, informed decisions.”

A resident of Novato, Steve spends his time outside of work on a variety of active pastimes. “I spend the majority of my time outdoors, whether hiking, biking, or playing golf or tennis,” he says. “I also spend a lot of time with my family. My parents and siblings all live in Novato and we’re very close, which is nice. We even like vacationing together.”

After 40 years at Rafael Floors, Abbey Carpet Center, Steve looks back at his unlikely ascent to ownership. “My experience has been pretty unique,” he reflects. “Most people go from one job to the next, looking for better opportunities along the way. I feel pretty fortunate that I was given those kinds of opportunities within the same company. All in all, it has been quite a journey.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

A: Actually, I’d like to see more of the United States…maybe get an RV and do the Route 66 thing.

Q: What’s your favorite season?

A: I like them all, but I’d probably choose spring because of the new growth and nice weather.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy day?

A: If I’m not working, I enjoy watching sports.

Q: What’s your favorite sports team?

A: It’s a tie between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers. I grew up rooting for the Packers.

Q: Do you collect anything?

A: Cars. I have a small collection that includes a 1966 Corvette Stingray convertible, a 1974 Chevy pickup and a 1991 Camaro convertible.

Read more

Wood and Faux Wood Flooring Options

Shares

SAN RAFAEL — If you’re thinking about installing a wood or faux wood floor in your home, you’ll want to know the full spectrum of your options. Here’s a summary of these options and their benefits: Authentic wood flooring The authentic wood… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Wood and Faux Wood Flooring Options

Shares
Complete Video Transcription:

SAN RAFAEL — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you’re planning to install wood flooring in your home, make sure you know the full spectrum of your options. Today we’re… Read more

SELECTED PHOTOS FROM THESE TOP RATED COMPANIES

Shares