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

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.

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Window Coverings That Optimize Light Control

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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

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Video: A Crucial Aspect of Window Covering Selection

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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

Mike Goldberg is a lifetime veteran of the flooring industry, and president of Lawrence Flooring & Interiors, a Diamond Certified company since 2002. He can be reached at (408) 372-7964 or by email.

Mike Goldberg

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Mike Goldberg: A Foundation for Success

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

CAMPBELL — As second-generation owner of Lawrence Flooring & Interiors, Mike Goldberg was able to create a successful livelihood by expanding upon the foundation originally laid by his father. “My father, Larry, started this business in 1971,” he says. “As a teenager, I started working for the business during the summer, both on the flooring side as an apprentice with the carpeting crews and on the furniture side as a delivery assistant. Later, while attending UCLA, I worked for a floor covering store, where I was able to utilize and expand my industry knowledge and experience.”

After finishing college, Mike remained in Los Angeles and started working for a large flooring store. However, it wasn’t long before the call of opportunity drew him homeward. “My father’s business was growing, and he asked if I’d be interested in coming back and working at the store,” he recounts. “It took a little convincing, but I decided it was worth a shot and packed my bags. More than 30 years later, I’m still here.”

Today, Mike says his favorite part of his job is staying at the forefront of his professional field. “As new products come out, they require different forms of installation, so the industry is in a constant state of development. It’s challenging to keep up, but it also keeps things fun and interesting.” Mike also takes pride in being part of Lawrence Flooring & Interiors’ local legacy. “After more than 45 years in business, we’re getting a lot of second-generation customers—people whose parents shopped here when they were growing up. It makes me feel good when someone tells me, ‘We’re so glad you’re still here!’”

Originally from Campbell, Mike resides today in Los Gatos with his wife, Kristine, where he appreciates the cutting-edge character of the Silicon Valley. “It’s a very exciting place to live,” he affirms. “These days, as the high-tech industry continues to expand, things are moving at a much faster pace than they were 30 years ago, so it keeps me moving along at a pretty good pace to keep up.”

Outside of work, Mike engages in a variety of activities, from fitness training to reading. “I spend a fair amount of my off-time working out, whether it’s cycling, running or lifting weights,” he says. “I’m also a skier, so, weather permitting, I like to hit the slopes when I can. At home, I enjoy sitting on our deck and reading a good book, as well as playing with our dog, Sarah. Over the years, we’ve gotten our dogs from the local animal shelter, which I’ve found to be very rewarding.”

Mike also likes keeping up with his and Kristine’s two grown children, both of whom are following their own respective career paths. “My daughter is currently attending the University of San Francisco, where she is in the Nursing School with plans to pursue her Doctorate as a Nurse Practitioner,” he says. “My son is majoring in aerospace engineering at Cal Poly. During the summers, he comes home and works in our warehouse, which is a big help and a lot of fun.”

In his life and career, Mike espouses the importance of maintaining good relationships. “In addition to hard work, healthy relationships are critical in business,” he explains. “This includes relationships with your fellow employees, vendors and subcontractors as well as your customers. All of these are very important to us, and I think that’s a big part of why we’re pushing 50 years in business.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Mike says he’d do some traveling. “I’ve been fortunate to do a fair amount of traveling in my life, but there are still a lot of places I’d like to see. I also look forward to watching my children pursue their own careers. They’re great kids—they work hard and care about people, and I can’t wait to see how their futures unfold.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s one book you’ve found particularly influential?
A: “Freakonomics” by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt. It’s a fascinating book that explores the wide-ranging impact of past economic events.

Q: What was the name of your first pet?
A: My parents had a little poodle that was aptly named Fifi.

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Aldo’s Ristorante & Bar in Los Gatos.

Q: What’s your favorite holiday?
A: The Fourth of July—without it, we wouldn’t be here today.

Q: How do you like your eggs?
A: Scrambled.

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Hardwood Floor Acclimation

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CAMPBELL — When planning to install a hardwood floor, an important aspect of the process to be aware of is the acclimation period. This typically begins seven days prior to installation, at which time your flooring supplier will deliver the product to… Read more

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Video: Pet-Proof Carpeting

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CAMPBELL — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you want to install carpet but are concerned about your pets damaging it, you’ll be glad to know industry technology is… Read more

Steven Siegfried is a veteran of the flooring industry and owner of Abbey Carpets by Fashion Floors, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (925) 233-6334 or by email.

Steven Siegfried

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Steven Siegfried: Serving Customers and Community

By Suzanne Carroll

ANTIOCH — Steven Siegfried didn’t always sell floors—in fact, he spent the first part of his career destroying them. “I worked for a termite control company and we’d often have to tear up floors to reach infestation sites,” he explains. “But whatever we tore up, we then had to repair or replace. Over the years, I learned a lot about flooring products and came to know the industry pretty well.” In 1981, Steven got the opportunity to take over a flooring store, which he renamed Fashion Floors.
Opportunity knocked again in 1989 when Steven received an offer to join the Abbey Carpet & Floor chain. Suddenly, Fashion Floors had the purchasing power of a national store but could still offer the customized service of a smaller shop. “We didn’t have to commit to just one flooring mill anymore—we had access to a huge range of hardwood, laminate, vinyl and carpet products,” says Steven. “Everyone in the Abbey family is very willing to share advice or information about the industry. When you’re a small mom-and-pop shop, everyone else is the competition, but now, we’re helping each other become better business owners.”
Today, Steven says his favorite part of his job is working one-on-one with his clients. “We’re with our customers every step of the way, from the showroom to the final installation.” As a business owner, Steven places a premium on respecting his clients’ decisions and treating them in a straightforward manner. “We never try to push our customers, and that’s something that makes people more comfortable. We want our clients to feel like they can come to us with any questions. We’ll give them the best advice we can, even if they don’t purchase floors from us.”
Customer relationships are important to Steven, who sees himself as a community builder in addition to a business owner. “I was president of our local chapter of the Rotary Club for several years, so community service is very important to me,” he affirms. A lifelong resident of the East Bay, Steven describes his area of Contra Costa County as close-knit. “A lot of the people who live here also work in town. We see each other in church or at each other’s stores. There’s a real sense of closeness, and I like that.”
In his spare time, Steven takes to the water. “I like to go whitewater rafting at South Fork near Coloma—my daughter and I used to be guides up there,” he says. “Also, when my wife, Sandy, and I want to relax, we’ll take our 1961 Trojan cruiser out on the delta, set up a barbeque and have a laid-back day.”
A father of three grown children and grandfather to four, Steven plans to devote more time to his grandkids once he retires, though he doesn’t imagine that day will come anytime soon. “When you’ve put your heart into your business like I have, it’s hard to pull yourself away,” he says.
Ask Me Anything!
Q: What’s your favorite sports team?
A: It used to be the Oakland Raiders, but now it’s the San Francisco Giants.

Q: Where would you most like to go on vacation?
A: I’d love to tour the different canals of Europe. I’ve also always wanted to see the Aurora Borealis.

Q: Are you an early bird or a night owl?
A: A night owl.

Q: What was your favorite childhood toy?
A: Slot cars. Back in those days, there used to be tracks where kids could take their slot cars to race.

Q: What kinds of music do you like?
A: I like smooth jazz, rock and roll oldies, and the Christian music I listened to when I was a kid.

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How to Choose Carpet That Resists Pet Stains

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ANTIOCH — Cleaning up after accidents is part of pet ownership. Some homeowners stick to hardwood floors and cheap, easily replaceable area rugs because they’re worried about potential stains or lingering odors. However, carpet products are becoming more sophisticated, and many… Read more

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Video: Pet-Friendly Carpeting

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ANTIOCH — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you’re concerned about your pet soiling your new carpet, you’ll be glad to know there’s a product that can guard against this.… 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

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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.

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Wood and Faux Wood Flooring Options

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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

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Video: Wood and Faux Wood Flooring Options

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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

Sam Gulesserian is a 44-year veteran of the flooring industry and president of Carpeteria, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (510) 431-2589 or by email.

Sam Gulesserian

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Sam Gulesserian: Never Looking Back

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SAN LEANDRO — After immigrating to the United States at the age of 18, Sam Gulesserian began working in the floor covering industry and never looked back. “I’m originally from Beirut, Lebanon,” he explains. “When I came to the U.S., my brother was working for Carpeteria in Los Angeles and got me a job there. At first, I had little interest in the floor covering business, but the more I got involved, the more I liked it. Later, when the company announced they were going to open a franchise in the Bay Area, I took the opportunity to head it up. Since opening that first store in Campbell, we’ve expanded to additional locations in Concord, Dublin, Mountain View and San Leandro.”

Today, as president of Carpeteria, Sam says his favorite part of his job is the interpersonal interaction. “I enjoy working with customers and seeing them happy with the final product. It also gives me satisfaction to see my employees fulfilled in their work and doing their best for the company.”

A resident of Los Gatos (where he lives with his wife, Aileen), Sam spends his time outside of work on a variety of activities, from listening to music and going to the beach to taking walks with his dogs and visiting his two grown children. Additionally, he makes it a point to travel regularly, both domestically and abroad. “I try to travel internationally about once a year, but I also take shorter trips to places like Miami—basically, anywhere there’s a good beach.”

As a longtime business owner, Sam espouses the importance of taking care of your employees. “I’ve found that if you treat your employees right, they’ll treat the customers right,” he explains. “I have employees who’ve been with me for 30 years. I’ve taken care of them and they appreciate that, just as I appreciate all their hard work and dedication over the years. For this reason, our company feels a lot like a family operation, which makes a big difference when it comes to customer satisfaction.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Sam says he wouldn’t. “I’m still going strong,” he affirms. “I enjoy staying busy, visiting our different locations, and building relationships with our employees and customers. This is my life—why would I want to stop?”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What kinds of music do you like?
A: I like almost anything, but I mostly listen to jazz, classical and pop.

Q: Are you an early bird or a night owl?
A: An early bird.

Q: What’s your favorite kind of food?
A: Mexican.

Q: If you could live in the city or the country, which would you choose?
A: The country—it’s more peaceful.

Q: What’s your favorite holiday?
A: Thanksgiving.

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4 Choices for Wood or Faux Wood Flooring

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SAN LEANDRO — When choosing wood flooring, today’s consumers have three options: completely natural, partially natural or fully synthetic. Here are some popular choices: Solid hardwood Traditional, solid hardwood flooring is an unfinished product that’s installed with nails. In addition to… Read more

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Video: Hardwood Flooring Options

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SAN LEANDRO — Host, Sarah Rutan: If you’re in the market for a new hardwood floor, it’s important to learn the full scope of your options. To… Read more

Ed Lacina is a 41-year veteran of the flooring industry and owner of Murison’s FlooringAmerica, a Diamond Certified company since 2002. He can be reached at (408) 341-9953 or by email.

Ed Lacina

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Ed Lacina: Flooring the Bay Area

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

SAN JOSE — After more than 40 years in the flooring industry, Ed Lacina is a foremost authority in matters underfoot. “I have an extensive background in flooring manufacturing and sales,” he affirms. “I studied industrial production in college, and after I graduated, I went to work for Armstrong Flooring, where I gained experience in manufacturing both carpet and hard surface flooring. In the early 1980s, I decided to move out of manufacturing and into sales, so I purchased Murison’s FlooringAmerica from its original owner. Thirty years later, I’m still here.”

Today, Ed says his favorite part of his job is seeing the results of his work. “One reason I left the manufacturing side of the business is because I never got to see the final application. In contrast, when you’re working in sales and installation, you get to see projects come to fruition and have a greater impact on people’s lives. That’s something I still enjoy today.”

Originally from Ohio, Ed moved to Northern California in 1971. As a resident of the South Bay (where he lives with his wife, Diane), he expresses his appreciation for the pleasant character of Bay Area living. “The lifestyle in the Bay Area is beautiful,” he says. “The weather, the surroundings, the people…I get up every morning thankful I’m able to live in such a place.”

Outside of work, Ed devotes the bulk of his time to his chief avocation of musical performance. “I play French horn and perform with local orchestras for various concerts and productions,” he says. “Right now, I’m doing a Broadway musical in downtown San Jose called ‘A Little Night Music.’ Between rehearsals and performances, it takes up the majority of my free time, but I enjoy it.” When he’s not rehearsing or performing, Ed likes to spend time with family. “Diane and I have two children, both of whom have kids of their own, so we enjoy seeing them and our grandchildren as often as we can.”

In regard to his professional career, Ed says he routinely strives to exceed customer expectations. “Our mission statement is to seek perfection in the eyes of the customer, which can be very challenging, especially since people’s standards can vary widely. That’s why we always go the extra mile and try to deliver a product that’s better than what the customer was anticipating.”

When asked what his future retirement might look like, Ed says he’ll do some long-deferred traveling. “Besides spending more time at the beach and the golf course, I think travel will be the major thing. In addition to international travel, I’d like to see more of the United States, especially some of our beautiful national parks.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite style of music?
A: Big band jazz.

Q: If you could immediately master any musical instrument, what would you choose?
A: The cello.

Q: Are you a dog person or a cat person?
A: A dog person. Our dog, Butch, can usually be found hanging out in the showroom.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
A: Portugal has been on my bucket list for a while—I’ve heard a lot of good things about it.

Q: How do you like your eggs?
A: Over easy.

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Innovations in Carpet Technology

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SAN JOSE — When it comes to choosing a flooring product, today’s consumers are as concerned with attributes like practicality and performance as they are with aesthetics. For this reason, many are eschewing stain-prone materials like carpet in favor of options… Read more

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Video: Innovations in Carpet Technology

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SAN JOSE — Host, Sarah Rutan: If cleaning concerns have made you hesitant about installing carpet in your home, you’ll be glad to know about some… Read more

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