By Camille Gillies
After spending the past 10 years as vice president of a large-contract floor covering company, Benjamin Bee smiles proudly as he shows off the showroom of his new business venture, a new SimpleFloors franchise in Lutz. Bee’s store, at the intersection of Whitaker Rd. and N. Nebraska Ave. (U.S. 41; minutes from most of New Tampa) is the first of its kind in Florida. Headquartered in Georgia, with 15 stores (and growing) nationwide — including locations in California and Washington — SimpleFloors offers a complete line of factory-direct floor coverings, from hardwood and tile to laminate and carpet.
“I wanted to be in business for myself,” Bee says. “I saw this as a great opportunity because it is very hard (for other stores) to compete against our prices and quality.” With 20 years of experience in the industry, he definitely knows his business.
Bee says SimpleFloors has one of the largest selections of real wood floors available and the showroom gives customers the chance to visualize how the floors will look in their homes.
“You don’t usually see such a large display of flooring as we have here,” he explains, pointing to the enormous samples lining the walls of his store. “We offer a good depiction of what the floor will actually look like in your home.” SimpleFloors also provides free samples of every product, allowing you to see how the floor matches your cabinets and paint colors.
As a testament to the company’s pride in workmanship, a 100-year warranty is included on all hardwood products sold by SimpleFloors.
“That warranty is a big asset to our customers,” Bee states. “It is very rare to see a warranty that long, especially one that is transferable and stays in the house for the life of the product.”
However, Bee says that perhaps the biggest benefit to his customers is the cost. “We are truly factory direct,” he explains. “I can’t think of another (flooring) supplier that sells to the end user direct from the factory.” Without having to involve distributors, SimpleFloors is therefore able to offer its products at discounted prices.
When it comes to installation, you can purchase the materials and have the company install them or do the job yourself. If you choose to have SimpleFloors perform the installation, your job will be completed by one of the company’s trusted subcontractors. From purchase to installation, a job can be done in as quickly as two days. “We keep some inventory here and if we don’t have what is ordered on hand, it is only a one-day transfer from our factory in Georgia,” he says.
Although many of his customers opt for the do-it-yourself method, handy homeowners may wish to note one of Bee’s observations: “Many of our do-it-yourselfers start out that way but end up coming back to us for help, asking us to fix something they did wrong.” The company gladly assists, trying to make the task as easy as possible for each customer.
In fact, if you are even put off or concerned with having to take your own measurements, Bee says he will come to your home, take the measurements and provide a free estimate.
The Products Available At SimpleFloors
Hardwood – It’s hard to beat real hardwood for the warmth and richness it adds to your home. SimpleFloors offers both engineered hardwood and solid hardwood floors. Bee says that engineered hardwood is a reasonable choice for the Florida climate because it can better withstand our humidity and temperature changes and, unlike solid hardwood, can be laid over concrete.
Many styles and species of engineered hardwood are now available, including those with wide planks and finishes that are hand-scraped, imparting the allure of Old-World craftsmanship. “The hand-scraped wood truly is done by hand, not machine, which means no two boards of any of the products are alike,” he says.
Among the wood species available at SimpleFloors are maple, oak, walnut, bamboo, acacia, hickory, elm and eucalyptus. A popular collection of engineered hardwood is Old World Chisel, which showcases a handcrafted chisel-scraping technique that emphasizes the distinctive characteristics of the wood’s grains. Its unstructured nature makes each home unique because each plank is different. The staining effect also is achieved by hand, creating a translucent surface with a soft luster and enough pop of color to showcase the grain.
If you are shopping for solid hardwood, you might consider the Reclamation Plank, which retails for approximately $6 per square foot. Bee says this unbelievable value would sell elsewhere for several dollars more per square foot. This wide-plank floor features hand-rubbed stains and a low-luster finish and adapts to minimalist, contemporary or traditional styles. It is unnecessary to purchase underlayments because a felt pad is attached to the back of each floor plank, creating a more insulated, quiet-sounding, solid floor.
Laminate – Bee says laminate (or artificial wood) floors have come a long way since they first appeared in the mid-’90s.You can now find a variety of wood looks and gloss levels, beveled edges and single-plank technology. Making installation easier, many laminate flooring styles currently feature boards that simply lock together without the use of adhesive. These floors can have a 25-year life span.
Cork – If you have a kids’ playroom, Bee recommends installing a cork floor for its resiliency and cushion. Those attributes also make cork a popular choice for gourmet kitchens.
“Cork flooring is easier on your back and is naturally quiet,” Bee explains. “Interestingly, we also have installed cork vertically to create accent walls and even (installed it) on ceilings as a coffered ceiling inlay.”
Bamboo – With an increasing number of people trying to conserve natural resources, bamboo is becoming a more popular flooring option. Considered a regenerative building product, bamboo is heralded as one of the best green building materials for the 21st century. Since the original tree is not killed in the harvesting process, it quickly regrows and can be harvested again. SimpleFloors offers a variety of colors and styles of bamboo flooring in solid or strand-woven bamboo.
For a full tour of floor choices available at SimpleFloors, visit this family-run store, where Bee, his wife, Lisa, or his mother, Sandi, will be happy to assist you. If Lisa isn’t at the store, she most likely can be found at New Tampa’s Pride Elementary, where she is a teacher. The couple and their two children live in Arbor Greene.
SimpleFloors, located at 103 Whitaker Rd., Lutz, offers an ongoing discount for teachers, active military personnel and first responders. In addition, check for monthly promotions at SimpleFloors.com. Or, phone 435-5579. SimpleFloors is open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday, but Bee often meets by appointment on Sunday, too, to accommodate his customers’ busy schedules.