Vortex Commercial Flooring
- Written by: Molly Shaw
- Produced by: Sean O'Reilly
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
After one of the strongest sales years on record in 2014, Vortex Commercial Flooring continues to gain more market share in Chicago and northern Illinois as a specified flooring dealership bringing superior product knowledge and expertise to a growing number of customers. Whether it’s a routine carpet repair or a complicated multifloor construction project, Vortex has earned a reputation for leading installations since 1989.
“We’re proud to say we’ve pulled through the recession extremely well and Vortex continues to take more market share from competitors stuck in the old model of simply bidding job after job,” says Randy Rich, co-president of Vortex. “We focus on the right product for the application not just in terms of aesthetics but in long-term performance and ease of maintenance.”
Making a name in Chicagoland
Vortex remains locally-owned and -operated and its in-house team has a long history of industry experience. Del Church serves as co-president alongside Rich and Bob Patrey and Ken Smith, partners at Vortex, round out the company’s executive leadership team. “Kristy Burlingame was recently named vice president, leading our downtown designer showroom,” adds Rich.
Vortex currently deploys more than 100 installers and has made its name known throughout some of Chicago’s major venues and landmarks – the University of Chicago, the McCormick Place convention center and even Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears. Vortex has garnered a reputation for leading installations.
With a product showroom in the heart of Chicago, Vortex is central to the city’s expansive real estate footprint and well positioned to cater to corporate building and facility managers. “Our target market is the corporate end user,” explains Rich. “Our Addison, Illinois, location focuses more on the educational and institutional market – markets we’ve always been strong in – but we also do a fair amount of health care work. We have specialists in each market category.”
The only market outside of Vortex’s sphere is residential. “We’re a union shop here in the great city of Chicago and union labor in a residential setting would be cost prohibitive,” says Rich. “Mainly because the big box stores use all nonunion crews and same with smaller residential shops, but being a partner with the union is great for us because they have a fantastic training facility we send all of our technicians through.”
For years, Vortex has been a premiere member of International Standards and Training Alliance (INSTALL) Chicago, which offers the most comprehensive training available for installers of a wide variety of flooring materials. “Our INSTALL flooring mechanics are trained in an exhaustive five-year program that leaves no relevant issue unaddressed,” says Rich. “From concrete moisture remediation and substrate preparation to intricate installation techniques, graduates of this training have consistently been called upon to provide dependable, qualified labor to install the products of manufacturers of carpet, linoleum, vinyl and other resilient flooring, as well as hardwood and laminate flooring.”
Additionally, Vortex is proud to be one of only a handful of dealerships nationwide that has INSTALL Certified Contractor status, offering unprecedented extended warranties against installation failure. “Most companies cannot perform work at our level of expertise to guarantee labor, and back it up in writing,” explains Rich. “We receive calls routinely to correct failed installations by other unskilled labor shops, both union and nonunion. People learn the hard way that the initial ‘cheap route’ can be rather expensive when failures occur.”
“We just completed the Rosemont Convention Center in December 2014 – a major renovation project we were proud to be a part of,” continues Rich. “Vortex is also in the midst of finishing the largest carpet installation in the city at the McCormick Place convention center. We’re installing 92,000 yards of carpet on a tight timeline.”
Riding on repeat business
As a market leader in the specified flooring business, Vortex has unlimited access to all major brands in the industry, but chooses to partner with only the very best suppliers and manufacturers of flooring. With LEED Accredited Professionals and educated design consultants on staff, Vortex also offers green building consultation. “Our focus is making sure our clients get the best possible product for the space intended,” says Rich.
“We feel it’s worth the investment to understand what the end user is looking for based on performance, how the product is made and also an eye on the ease of future maintenance down the road so costs don’t get out of hand.”
This is the kind of service and attention that cultivates repeat business. “We work with everyone from the University of Chicago to Groupon and Integrys -all great institutions/companies that we have longstanding relationships with,” says Rich. “I first called on Peoples Gas, now known as Integrys, when I was 23 years old – now I’m 46 and we’re still working with them. It’s because these projects are not just one-off jobs; they’re clients that really listen to our advice for the products we think should be specified for long-term performance. Vortex does its best to work hand in hand with the architects on the product specifications when we can, and we’re very proud of the collaborative end result when we’re done.”
Rich says this approach has worked for Vortex for the last 26 years and continues to bode well for the company. “We currently have the largest backlog of work we’ve ever had,” he adds. “We’re very proud of where we’ve come after the recession and it’s happened by looking at flooring differently -specifying products that perform in the marketplace as opposed to those who just bid and bid on jobs.”
With a trusted name and longstanding relationships throughout greater Chicagoland, Vortex Commercial Flooring remains a leader, guiding customers to the best total flooring solution.
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