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Posted: May 23, 2020

Flooring Superstores keeping calm and carrying on

By Erin Knutson

Flooring Superstores has one thing to say about adversity posed by COVID-19; keep calm and carry on.

Despite a global pandemic, this Cranbrook-based business has maintained the status-quo while rising above and beyond the norm.

Owners Mike Ortynski and Rob Rourke responded to the arrival of COVID-19 with stoicism and calm.

“We had a game plan in place from the get-go. We briefed our staff daily and made sure to maintain confidence as things changed,” said Ortynski.

By educating their staff, following pandemic protocol, and adapting to rapid change, the flooring experts have retained and accommodated their employees and kept customers satisfied through it all.

Working alongside their experienced team and professional installers, Mike and Rob have made the overwhelming task of renovating during a pandemic a reality.

“We’re keeping our distance from people because that’s the right thing to do. We’ve got hand sanitizer up at the front, and we’ve got barriers so that people can’t get too close, and the confidence of my staff is through the roof,” he said.

Shoulder-to-shoulder, Mike and Rob were clear that their staff had the right to choose and would not discriminate against them if they wanted to go home.

“We had a flat week after the start of all of this, but then we regained momentum as it went on.”

The company is as dedicated as ever to their residential and commercial installations – dispatching a team that is now wearing masks, gloves, and booties.

They continue to deliver and provide in-stock flooring solutions to the community at the customer’s specifications on how they want the job done. Speedy interactions have been part of the process, whatever it takes to make clients comfortable, said Ortynski.

“We have not had to use any outside supports at this time, and even with postponed projects, we are on track, and business will catch up in the end,” he said.

Getting a jump on things, cutting costs, and determining a financial plan early in the crisis were all things that have kept Flooring Superstores healthy and optimistic about the future.

Giving up was not an option for the frugal business owner, who advised all to keep working to keep planning and to keep moving despite the current situation. Opportunity in crisis was a strategy he mentioned and sticking it out no matter the result were tools he has learned from experience.

“I wasn’t frugal all my life to have this thing hit me off my feet in one second. We have retained earnings, and we will use them if we have to get through in this country,” he said.

Even though it is one of the strangest times in history, Ortynski maintained that moving forward, learning, and growing are all part of what for many has been a painful trajectory.

“We will hang on until we can’t hang on anymore – we will be one of the last straws I can tell you that,” he said.

The entrepreneur, who is also the owner of Mike’s Auto Wash, has been in business for almost four decades and has seen his share of hardships.

Despite the current climate, business is booming for the auto wash with snowbirds who have come back early due to the crisis.

“Snowbirds with two cars are back, and that’s making a difference at the car wash. We sanitize as much as we can, but there’s only so much we can do with the procession of cars punching in codes,” he said.

Ortynski has been around for recessions, citing the economic downturn of the early 1980s and has seen grown men cry with the uncertainty and threat of insolvency.

Preparedness, experience, hard work, grit, and determination are all qualities, Ortynski mentioned for combatting difficult times as well as the emphasis on “thinking outside of the box.”

“Creativity is essential for success – linear thinking is not always the way to go in a crisis,” he said.

Complimenting Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer for British Columbia, and her ability to stick to her guns despite the advice of officials, is something Ortynski prescribes to as a businessman and as a life philosophy.

“There has been an emphasis on social isolation and vaccines, but not on proper nutrition, sleep, and exercise as a way to combat the virus,” he said.

According to Ortynski, common-sense is essential and leadership, especially in these times.

Leading with strength and confidence has made the difference in Flooring Superstores’ daily operations. Keeping fear to a minimum and inspiring courage are all things that have worked for this organization.

“There was never a question about closing our doors – it was only about continuing on and hanging in there,” he said. “Things are changing, and families with young children are coming into the store, and that’s nice to see.”

Saving lives is the important thing here, and watching the community rise together and adapt to this new world despite objections to restrictions are encouraging to the business owner.

“For the future, there will always be broken cycles, be ready and be prepared to ride it out, learn from what just happened, and continue.”

Lead image: Flooring Superstores Mike Ortynski. Carrie Schafer/e-KNOW photo

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