Weyer’s Floor Services Inc.
- Written by: Tony Ware
- Produced by: Heidi Therrien
- Estimated reading time: 6 mins
Lawrence Weyer Sr. began Weyer’s Floor Services (WFS) in the early 1950s. At that time it was a small flooring business working out of the Weyer family home in Silver Spring, Md. Lawrence’s son, Larry, joined the company at age 14, and in his early 20s went on to succeed his father as owner. In 1974 Larry incorporated the business and throughout the past several decades the company has established a reputation for performing the highest quality installations of commercial and educational indoor athletic surfaces.
Now greatly expanded in size – from three to 30 employees – and relocated to Odenton, Md., the business services a range of cliental in the Mid-Atlantic region – including Maryland, Washington D.C., Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware and New Jersey.
WSF as it stands today is removed in size and scope from its modest beginnings, providing services to some of the region’s most prestigious institutions of higher learning, as well as the facilities of major sporting franchises. However, the ownership that WFS takes in its work remains the same as it was in the ’50s. “I was taught by my father that it isn’t just about the money, it’s about caring about what you’re doing,” emphasizes Larry.
WSF goes above and beyond to assure its customers are happy. According to Larry a typical warranty is a year, but this has not prevented WFS from at times servicing clients, at no cost, “four or five years [after completion].” Thanks to this above-and-beyond service, WFS has a list of repeat cliental that goes back decades, to nearly the beginning of the business. “We’ve got customers that we’ve had for probably 50 years,” says Larry, who believes that his business is, as he says, “built on relationships.”
The floor for the Cole Field House at the University of Maryland, for example, was a project that Larry’s father Lawrence had completed originally in 1954. Over four decades later, WFS was chosen for its long-standing tradition of quality and professionalism, this time to pull up the now-outdated flooring and to perform an updated install for the new Comcast Center (which replaced the Cole Field House).
In addition to the new athletic facility for the University of Maryland’s basketball, volleyball, wrestling and gymnastic teams, WFS has participated in outfitting the training facilities for some of the Washington area’s most notable professional sports teams – the Wizards (NBA), the Redskins (NFL) and the Baltimore Ravens (NFL) – as well as some well-known local universities such as Georgetown, George Mason, George Washington, and Rutgers.
And it’s not just clients that are loyal to WFS through the decades; so, too, are the employees. Many of the WSF staff are second generation in the industry and hold the same attitude toward putting in the extra effort as Larry. Competitors may use subs that can get the job done cheaper, and sometimes quicker, but they can’t offer the same level of detail-oriented craftsmanship. One employee in particular has been doing floors since he was just 16, “He’s now 75 … he still wants to work,” says an admiring Larry. “He doesn’t know what he’d do if stayed home. He’s someone who understands the importance of taking the time to double-check all your work, and to fix problems before they happen.”
Laying Down the Best
Although the majority of WFS’ projects are for schools and athletic facilities, the company’s work extends to several other venues, including large-scale retail, D.C.-based foreign embassies, federal government and the White House. Private clients also commission WFS for work on their own home gyms. “We’ve done floors for Cal Ripken, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Riddick Bowe,” Larry explains.
“Riddick’s training center was pretty tough, because the floor around the ring was stiff, and where he exercised we had to transition to a soft, cushiony floor, but he wanted wood throughout,” reflects Larry. The engineering and subfloor technology that’s available have changed so much you can now have different resiliency options within the same flooring surface.
Still, as a go-to installer of athletic flooring for school facilities (from elementary to post-secondary institutions), the majority of WFS’ work takes place during intensely active summer months. “Our heaviest time is when school is out; our guys can have almost unlimited hours then,” confirms Larry. Work is varied and extends beyond gym flooring, as Larry explains, to include “the gym, the auxiliary gym, the stage, the dance floor, the black box, the weight room, the wrestling room; as many as five or six areas in a large school.”
Schools and sports teams looking for the best choose WFS for many reasons, including the company’s choice to install cutting-edge flooring products from Robbins Sports Surfaces, one of the oldest and largest dealers of sports flooring in the U.S. WFS offers a full range of Robbins’ options, including northern hard maple – the preferred surface for basketball and volleyball courts – and synthetic surfaces for practical applications within indoor field houses.
Leaps and Bounds in Flooring
The current flooring products sourced from Robbins Sports Surfaces are a world away from the flooring laid down in the 1950s by Lawrence Sr. and a few of his helping hands. “I’d say the mechanics of floors is the biggest thing to have changed,” muses Larry. “They used to build [floors] with limited resiliency, using different types of woods … Now there are sub-floor systems for any application. With emphasis on player safety, gym floors are now built to reduce fatigue in players.”
Product, however, is not the only aspect of flooring to have changed in the past six decades – the procedure of flooring has also come a long way from WFS’ start in the mid-20th century. Now, in 2011, “We have people putting graphics on gym [floors] who have art degrees,” explains Larry. “I always tell people that in the old days the floors were designed by a couple floor guys and now they’re designed by engineers. We have all these options thanks to electronic layout programs.”
Indeed, the possibilities WFS can realize for a client have expanded greatly through increasingly technical procedures. But the most important skill set that WFS holds is the ability to work directly with both the clients and contractors to assure everyone is on the same page and that a customized project gets delivered on time and on budget. “A lot of people sell floors by price, but we try to sell them by the needs of the customers – what they need, what they are trying to accomplish,” says Larry. “A cheaper floor is nice, but it’s money wasted when it doesn’t suit all the purposes you want to do on this particular surface.”
Putting Trust in the Future
Already a premiere partner in its primary field, WFS is looking to supplement its flooring line in the next few years with a foray into the artificial turf business. “We’ll start showing it at the Athletic Director’s Show, things like that, see if people are interested,” tells Larry. “I imagine the first customers will be old customers who give us a shot.”
By “old customers” Larry means the company’s broad base of repeat cliental, some of whom he has worked for throughout the past 48 years he has been in the business. Larry explains these clients are far more than organizations to occasionally solicit for work, however; they are first-and-foremost considered friends.
“I hate being in the office. I’d much rather be on the road seeing people, looking at jobs, talking to people. I go see people and talk about their kids, their wife, the football game; we don’t even talk about their floors. It’s a relationship that turns into a friendship and into a trust, and if you didn’t stand behind it you’d be betraying that trust,” says Larry.
Betraying trust isn’t something Larry, or WFS, does, and the business has expanded thanks to its long-term relationships built on offering both ethical and economic value. This trust has meant getting jobs over lower bidders, and being sourced for ongoing upgrade work for repeat clients. Now, millions of square feet later, trust is the ground that Weyer’s Flooring Services Inc. continues to build upon.
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