As part of Flooring America's "Shining Stars" group of top tier performers, Rufus Ashby and Jim Garner frequently spent time together in meetings even though Ashby owned Flooring America in the Tampa/Sarasota area and Garner is the chief executive officer of Sergenian's Floor Coverings in Madison, Wis.
Talking business four to five times a year led to talking about a merger, and now the flooring company at 9329 E Adamo Drive is bolstered by a partnership with Sergenian's that Ashby says will lead to greater service for customers searching for carpet, hardwoods, tiles and laminates.
Combined, the two companies expect to have annual sales of more than $27-million. Ashby says that will make them one of the top 50 independent flooring retailers in the nation.
"This will make sure we're around for a long time," Ashby said this week. "It's been tough for my industry the last three years, and really tough for everybody, but together, we're going to be a very strong company."
With the merger comes a name change for the stores Ashby owned in Tampa and Sarasota: G Fried Flooring America. Ashby purchased the G Fried stores in Sarasota several years ago and combining brands will streamline marketing and operational efforts. Ashby, who remains president of the Florida region, also will continue to operate a commercial flooring facility in Jupiter.
The brand change already appears to be more than cosmetic. The showroom on Adamo recently underwent a major remodeling and now features more selections and a cleaner appeal.
"We're focusing on value and service," Ashby said. "We're trying to do things that other companies don't do.
"For example, all our residential jobs are precut. We won't be rolling carpet out in your driveway. And we offer lifetime installation warranties on all carpeting."
Equally important to Ashby is supporting the community, and he says the merger will strengthen his ability to serve. He currently sits on the board of Brandon Regional Hospital and the Greater Brandon Chamber of Commerce. He also actively serves in Rotary.
Fiat zooms in: The Brandon Auto Mall, 11024 Causeway Blvd., now features a fleet of new Fiats for sale. The additional inventory will lead up to the spring opening of a brand new Ed Morse Fiat Studio showroom. It will be the only dealership in Hillsborough County to offer the brand.
Current Fiat models available include the Pop, Sport and Lounge. They range from $15,500 to $25,000.
MidFlorida coming to central Brandon: MidFlorida Credit Union will completely remodel a former restaurant spot at 825 W Brandon Blvd. to expand its branch network.
The office will offer extended drive-through service (7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays), Saturday hours, mortgage and business lending, as well as personal lending. The credit union plans a soft opening in June, with the branch being fully operational by July.
The location is a former Village Inn and most recently operated as a Brandon Buffet.
Headquartered in Lakeland, MidFlorida serves more than 150,000 members with assets of more than $1.6 billion.
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