In the sports flooring industry, we know the subfloor underneath the hardwood maple is a crucial part of a quality system. In the same way, the relationships upon which a business is built provides a foundation for success.
O’Sullivan Flooring in Boston, Massachusetts, understands the importance of building lasting relationships. They’ve had one with Action Floor Systems since our very beginning, and they’ve earned the respect and loyalty of schools across New England through their partnerships and by showing a commitment to their customers.
We spoke with second-generation owner Jim O’Sullivan to get the story behind his family’s business and the importance of strong connections between manufacturers, dealers, and end users.
43 Years of Sports Flooring
After working as a floor installation supervisor through the 1960s, Jim’s father, James, opened his own sports flooring business in 1975. While Jim has been running the dealership since 2000, his 89-year-old dad is still closely involved, making sure the work ethic and values he instilled in the company decades ago continue.
“I went on vacation this year and my father supervised an entire install,” shares Jim. “What’s funny is that when my father is supervising installations, the jobs get done 25 percent faster.”
Jim says no one works extra hours when the elder O’Sullivan supervises. It’s just that James and his watchful eye make sure the team is working efficiently and everyone is doing their part.
O’Sullivan Flooring is one of Action Floors’ oldest and most loyal dealers. In fact, they were one of the very first to place an order with our mill in Mercer, Wisconsin, back in 1988. But the O’Sullivan family’s connection to Action Floors goes back even further than that.
“My father and Tom Abendroth’s father, Carl, had a relationship prior to Action Floors,” recalls Jim. “My father has always respected the family. In fact, he was at Tommy’s wedding 30 years ago.”
Carl Abendroth was a pioneer in hardwood sports flooring and served as a board member and as the president of the Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association (MFMA) around the time James started O’Sullivan Flooring.
The best business relationships are often friendships as well because they have trust, loyalty, and mutual respect. Those characteristics are still part of the partnership between our two companies after all these years.
Making the Grade with Schools on the East Coast
Visit a school gym in New England and there’s a fairly good chance the team at O’Sullivan Flooring installed it. Jim says they’ve installed more than 1,000 floors in the 43 years they’ve been in business.
That includes high-profile flooring projects for customers such as the Boston Celtics, Harvard University, and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. It’s been all the local schools, however, that provide the base for continued growth. Jim says when he took over the business in 2000, he knew there was a growing demand that O’Sullivan Flooring could help meet.
“There were 435 schools on the waiting list to be built in the New England area,” explains Jim. “When I ran the numbers, I saw a big opportunity for the company.”
As they’ve fulfilled that demand for quality sports floors, schools have helped spread the word about O’Sullivan Flooring.
“They’re relationships that we work hard to maintain and ones that continue to refer us to other opportunities,” Jim says. “Everything we do is based on referrals and recommendations. People remember if you give them good and honest service.”
Counting on a stellar reputation and word of mouth among your customers may seem impossible in such a price-sensitive industry. However, O’Sullivan Flooring’s promise of perfection and dedication to relationship building is one of the reasons the phone continues to ring with inquiries.
“Public and private schools, colleges and universities, and general contractors know that if there’s a problem with anything that we do, we come back and fix it,” says Jim. “It’s rare that it happens, but when it does, we fix it.”
Jim explains that some of O’Sullivan Flooring’s best customers are ones that they’ve fixed snafus with from 10 or 15 years ago.
The Family Spirit in Action
It’s no secret that the sport flooring industry is full of family connections. Parents pass businesses and values on to their children who continue the tradition and build upon their success of their fathers.
At Action Floors, we believe that same sense of family should extend from the manufacturer to the flooring contractors, general contractors, architects, and end users who ultimately use our sports floor systems. We also believe that solid relationships are the key to success in this industry.
O’Sullivan Flooring was there for us when we opened our doors, and we’ve been with them over the past three decades.
“The thing about Action Floors is that, when it gets busy in the summertime, they do an even better job supporting us dealers,” Jim explains. “It’s also the little things that Action Floors does that makes business easier. The things like sending samples, quick information and responses, fast feedback, and technical support.”
Families and friends stay connected. They support each other. They celebrate success together.
We’re proud to highlight the great work that O’Sullivan Flooring and others in our network of expert sports floor contractors achieve. Check out the Case Studies and Project Profiles or view our photo gallery to see for yourself.
Learn more about other dealers that we are honored to work with in previous Dealer Spotlights. If your business is interested in growing and working with a partner that is focused on your growth and success, contact Action Floors or call 1-800-746-3512 today.