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DIAMOND CERTIFIED EXPERT CONTRIBUTORS IN THE Bay Area – Hardwood Floors CATEGORY

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.

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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

Expert Video Tip

Video: Wood and Faux Wood Flooring Options

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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

Bryan Keding is manager of Floor Coverings International, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (925) 679-5935 or by email.

Bryan Keding

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Bryan Keding: A Flooring Focus

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

CONCORD — Bryan Keding entered the home improvement field as a young man, but it wasn’t until he joined forces with his brothers that his career really took off. “I started as a house painter,” he recounts. “My two brothers, Kreg and Reggie, also worked in the home improvement industry, and we eventually decided to go into business together. In 2007, we started a home remodeling company and later narrowed our focus to flooring installation. After some time, we realized we could provide better service if we had more control of the material side, so we added a franchise that would allow us to sell flooring as well as install it. Today, as the Concord franchise of Floor Coverings International, we’re basically a one-stop shop for all flooring needs.”

As manager of Floor Coverings International, Bryan says his favorite part of his job is bringing his customers joy. “I love seeing the smiles on our customers’ faces when they see their new floors. That’s a huge part of why I do what I do.”

A resident of the North Bay Area (where he lives with his wife, Lilianna, and their two children), Bryan spends his time outside of work on a variety of pastimes. “I enjoy snowboarding and amateur car racing,” he details. “I have a Subaru STI that I take to Sonoma Raceway—it’s a lot of fun to drive it on the track.” Besides his personal hobbies, Bryan enjoys spending time with his family doing activities such as hiking and attending local fairs and festivals.

In regard to a professional philosophy, Bryan espouses the importance of being true to your word. “Honesty and integrity are huge factors for me,” he explains. “I take care of our customers above all and make sure we provide them with exactly what we promise.”

When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Bryan says he’d do some traveling. “I’d probably start by taking a trip to New Zealand or maybe travel through Europe. My wife speaks a few different European languages, so that would be really helpful.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?

A: Il Davide in San Rafael.

Q: Music or talk radio?

A: Probably talk radio, but I also enjoy music and sometimes my ears need a rest from all the talking.

Q: What’s your favorite sports team?

A: The San Francisco 49ers.

Q: What were you most known for in high school?

A: Mostly sports—I played basketball and football and ran track. However, I was also known for being good at math. I’ve always enjoyed geometry and it’s neat that I’m still using those skills in my career today.

Q: What’s your favorite snack?

A: Spicy chips. Paqui has a flavor called Haunted Ghost Pepper that I really like.

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The Impact of a Quality Floor Finish

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CONCORD — When choosing a hard surface flooring product, a lot of homeowners focus on the thickness of the material. However, a more important attribute to look for in this type of flooring is the quality of the finish. When… Read more

How to Spot-Clean Your Carpet

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When it comes to spot-cleaning a carpet stain, correct procedure is crucial for ensuring a successful result. Follow these steps: Use an appropriate product. There are many carpet cleaning products on the market, but not all are of equivalent quality.… Read more

Hardwood Flooring: Site-Finished vs. Prefinished

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CONCORD — When planning to install new hardwood flooring, you’ll need to decide whether to go with a product that’s sanded and finished on site or one that’s prefinished at the factory. Before making this choice, it’s worthwhile to learn about… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: How to Spot-Clean Your Carpet

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Complete Video Transcription:

CONCORD — Host, Sarah Rutan: When something spills on your carpet, you’ll need to know the correct procedure for cleaning it and preventing a stain. Today we’re… Read more

Dan Yorke is a 28-year veteran of the hardwood flooring industry and owner of Danville Hardwood Company Incorporated, a Diamond Certified company. He can be reached at (925) 838-1311 or by email.

Dan Yorke

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Dan Yorke: A Hardwood Life

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter

DANVILLE — When Dan Yorke decided to expand his carpeting business to include hardwood flooring, he saw it as a lucrative opportunity to benefit from a growing trend. What he didn’t realize, however, is just how challenging the endeavor would prove to be. “I found out that working with hardwood is a lot more complicated than cleaning and installing carpet, which is what I originally planned to focus on when I opened my business,” he recounts. “It proved to be a pretty sharp learning curve, and it took us a few years to get a handle on it.”

Despite the rough initiation, Dan’s business gradually grew to excel at hardwood installation—so much so that he eventually sold the company’s carpeting division. Today, Dan says he’s proud that Danville Hardwood Company Incorporated continues to be one of the East Bay’s most trusted hardwood flooring contractors. “We really shine next to our competitors because many of them simply don’t know what they’re doing. With high-end homes in particular, people want to feel comfortable with a company’s level of knowledge and experience, which is why many local homeowners choose us.”

A longtime resident of Danville, Dan says he appreciates the close-knit character of his local community. “My wife, Laura, and I have many roots in Danville. We raised our three sons here, and I’ve personally served as president of the Danville Area Chamber of Commerce. After many years in business, our company has a lot of appreciation for the support our community continues to give us.”

Outside of work, Dan engages in a variety of hobbies, including salmon fishing and crabbing, gardening, and taking on home improvement projects. When he’s not in a boat or at home, he can often be found enjoying a meal at his favorite local restaurant, Pete’s Brass Rail. In addition to his everyday hobbies and pastimes, Dan likes taking trips to visit his three grown sons, Teddy, Ben and Sam.

When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Dan says he’d spend more time both at home and abroad. “I work an awful lot, so my wife and I don’t get out as much as we’d like. Even when I do travel, it’s usually for business. So, if I retired tomorrow, I’d spend more time pursuing some of the activities I enjoy, as well as see some more of the world.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: What’s your favorite season and why?
A: Summer, because I love the heat.

Q: What’s your favorite kind of tree?
A: Hickory. It’s nice to look at, and the wood is very durable and versatile.

Q: What animal best characterizes you?
A: A Golden Retriever, because I’m loyal, loving and friendly.

Q: Would you rather live in the city or the country?
A: The country.

Q: What do you read most: fiction or non-fiction books?
A: Non-fiction books.

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Considerations for Choosing a Wood Flooring Product

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DANVILLE — When choosing a new wood flooring product for your home, you’ll need to consider several factors to make the right decision. A good starting place is to consider the size and character of your household, as this will inform the… Read more

Choosing the Right Hardwood Floor Cleaning Product

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DANVILLE — A hardwood floor is a big investment, and the best way to protect that investment is by employing proper care and maintenance. However, just any maintenance won’t do—it needs to be appropriate for the type of floor and, more importantly,… Read more

A Simple Way to Maintain Your Hardwood Floors

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DANVILLE — While most homeowners understand the importance of refinishing their hardwood floors, some don’t realize that if they have their floors refinished too often, they’re actually doing more harm than good. By combining routine cleaning and periodic professional service,… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Choosing a Hardwood Floor Cleaning Product

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Complete Video Transcription:

DANVILLE — Host, Sarah Rutan: Prior to cleaning your hardwood floors, it’s important to make sure you’re using the right product. To learn more, we’re in Danville with… Read more

Amanda Lafferty is a design associate at National Blinds & Flooring Inc., a Diamond Certified company since 2013. She can be reached at (415) 690-7945 or by email.

Amanda Lafferty

diamond certified contributor profile and expert article

Amanda Lafferty: Born to Design

By James Florence, Diamond Certified Program Reporter

SAN FRANCISCO — For Amanda Lafferty, a career in interior design was a natural progression of her inherited flair for home decorating. “I’ve always been interested in creating beautiful spaces,” she says. “I think I got it from my mom, who is really design-oriented. I would see her rearranging and redecorating our house from an early age, so I guess I caught the bug.”

After she graduated high school, Amanda followed her passion for home décor in college, earning her B.S. in interior design at San Francisco State University. It was during this time that she made a connection which quickly led to an occupational opportunity. “I contacted National Blinds looking for information for a school project,” she remembers. “I came in and spoke with Israel, the owner, and we just clicked. As it happened, he was looking to hire someone in his showroom. In the end, I not only got a good grade on my project, I got a job, too!”

Today, as a design associate at National Blinds & Flooring Inc., Amanda says her favorite part of her job is improving the beauty and functionality of her customers’ homes. “Before working here, I never realized that window coverings could make such a big difference in the aesthetics of a space. Now that I understand it, I enjoy passing on that knowledge to our customers. It’s a very rewarding job.”

A resident of San Mateo, Amanda expresses her appreciation for the diversity of Bay Area life. “There’s no shortage of events and activities here, which makes it a really fun place to live,” she says. “I also think it’s neat living in an area that’s world-renowned for iconic features like the Golden Gate Bridge—it makes me feel pretty fortunate to have grown up around here.”

Outside of work, Amanda engages in a variety of activities, from walking her dog, Oliver, to keeping up with the latest design and fashion trends. “I enjoy staying up-to-date with the design industry, so I spend a lot of time reading blogs and magazines,” she says. “I also like taking advantage of everything the Bay Area has to offer, from exploring around San Francisco to going wine tasting in the Napa Valley.”

In her life and career, Amanda espouses the importance of pursuing passions. “I think it’s important to love what you do,” she explains. “Personally, I’ve always known that I wanted to do something in the interior design field, so I’m thrilled to be doing what I’m doing. When you’re passionate about your career, it’s hard not to enjoy it—plus, I think you’re more likely to be successful.”

Ask Me Anything!

Q: Reality TV or documentaries?
A: I enjoy both, so it depends on my mood.

Q: What’s your favorite season?
A: Fall—I like the nice weather and leaves changing color.

Q: Do you collect anything?
A: Clothes.

Q: What’s one website you visit on a daily basis?
A: Pinterest.

Q: Who makes you laugh?
A: John Mulaney and Aziz Ansari.

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Considerations for Choosing Draperies

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SAN FRANCISCO — One of the best ways to enhance the aesthetics of your home is with custom draperies. However, in order to make the right selection, you’ll need to consider a lot more than just the color of the fabric. One… Read more

Expert Video Tip

Video: Considerations for Choosing Draperies

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Complete Video Transcription:

SAN FRANCISCO — Host, Sarah Rutan: When picking out new window draperies, you’ll want to consider more than just their color. Today we’re in San Francisco with Diamond… Read more

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