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“I was born and raised in this building,” says Michael Perry, co-owner of the family-run business Onondaga Flooring, along with his brother Scott. “I feel like I’m home when I’m here,” and that is what running, maintaining and being a part of a family owned business is all about.”
In the corner of his office, a set of timeworn golf clubs lean against the wall, alongside a shadow box of golf balls inscribed with names of many top golf courses. “Those are most of the golf courses my father played at,” Michael explains, pointing to a half dozen more on the floor. “Those are mine, I’m just getting started.” It is fitting to prominently display a tribute to his late father Lynn in the showroom offices, the place where the family business all started. Michael hopes he’s still making his father proud, honoring the legacy he left to his sons. “We are still striving toward that,” he says.
Having his dad’s mementos proudly displayed shows a visitor that this carpet showroom on North Salina Street really is like home to the Perry brothers. Michael started working in the business when he was too young to remember, cleaning bathrooms and sweeping floors. “That speaks volumes about how I’ve been involved in this business. If I needed a new baseball glove, there was always something to do to help out. I watched my father work very hard, building a successful business that would serve the CNY community. Loyalty and excellent customer service are the keys to everything when running a local, family-run operation,” says Michael. “They are the key differences between us and the big box stores.”
“My father was a great judge of character and was great at bringing out the strengths in people,” Michael says. That helped the brothers recognize their own strengths. Scott handles most of the administrative and accounting portions of the business, while Michael concentrates on the physical operations and facilities. Scott’s daughter Brittany also is employed at Onondaga Flooring. Her becoming involved in the business “hopefully means that we can continue our story of building for generations. It’s something we hope to see,” Michael adds.
While the business has been located at 1510 N. Salina Street since its founding in 1968, it has expanded three times, growing from 9,000 square feet to today’s 20,000 square feet. In 2014 they opened an additional storefront in Clay. The Northside showroom is evidence of the shift away from a business that originally just sold carpet, that now includes products representing industry trends of area rugs, vinyl, hardwood, laminate and ceramic tile. Now one of the largest dealers in CNY, they are one of 500 dealers to be selected as a Mohawk Floorscapes dealer throughout the US and Canada, and have won the coveted title of “Dealer of the Year.” “We’re now considered one of the elite by aggressively and quickly being adaptive to our customers’ needs and flooring trends,” according to Michael.
Although the CNY business climate can sometimes make it tough to run a business, “we want and need to promote this business as a local family operation that’s succeeded, in spite of home center conglomerates that sometimes just come and go in a community. The big boxes may come across as having the best price, but if you compare apples to apples, you seldom get the best deal.” The main difference, Michael emphasizes, “has to be that we provide excellent customer service, it’s what we strive for,” as evidenced by their Triple A rating with Angie’s List.
“Being close to the Inner Harbor that is in a growth spurt of successful expansion and development bodes well for our continued success in this location,” Michael says. “The businesses that are here have a strong sense of pride and we want to see the neighborhood cared for and cleaned up. Despite the bad rap the area sometimes gets, there could be greatness here.”
One of the challenges in running a family owned business is disconnecting from the business when looking to get away, Michael says. “Scott and I each have our strengths and we can easily roll over to fill each other’s responsibilities, reassuring each other that things are being taken care of. But getting your mind away is the hard part. You are never really away.”