58 YEARS IN THE FLOORING BUSINESS
" A Tradition of Survival "
Norton’s Flooring (formerly "The Carpet Shop") started in 1976 by Jay and Evelyn Norton. It began as rented space in an old warehouse located in downtown Roanoke, Alabama. Jay, who had worked in the carpet industry since the 1940’s, was now working as a sales representative for several carpet mills. He, in his travels, had accumulated many discontinued samples as well as making great contacts for carpet and vinyl roll ends. So Evelyn sold these in their space when she wasn’t working as secretary in a local church.
Times were tough then, in Roanoke. The lifeblood of the town, a local textile mill, suffering with cutbacks and periodic shutdowns, finally closed its doors for good, leaving the town and its residents in a bad way. Had it not been for the local banks and enterprising ideas to attract new industry, the Norton’s and most of Roanoke businesses would have become another casualty of the recession.
Jay and Evelyn knew hard times. Both raised during times of war and depression, (Jay from Texas and Evelyn from the hills of Tennessee) they knew what it took to survive: hard work and determination. They rented an old "run down" railroad depot, and borrowed money to fix it up for "The Carpet Shop". An old barn on the property was made into a flea market. They sold carpet, vinyl, chairs, old sewing machines, books and even Jacuzzis at one time. Any and everything to survive. Jay would come up with one crazy idea after another, filtering most of them through Evelyn, and sneaking some of them around her. For every three steps forward, there would inevitably be two coming back; but that was the Norton way.
Son Tom came into the business in 1981. His experience working for an exotic woods dealer in Nashville proved very valuable to the business. He began selling and installing wood and parquet floors (hardwood is Norton’s Floorings’ primary product today). As time progressed, Tom became primarily responsible for floor covering sales, Jay in church furnishings and Evelyn as secretary, bookkeeper and of course corporate President.
As the business grew, it became more difficult to keep up with both sales and installation. Tom especially was finding himself working days, some nights and most weekends just keeping up. Brother Charley, working in Birmingham, started coming down to Roanoke on weekends and days off to help out. Before long, it was decided that Charley was needed all the time, so he and his wife moved from Birmingham into a house next to his brother Tom, and one block away from Jay and Evelyn.
Tom’s wife Debbie, who had helped out at the store, started working daily with the secretarial and bookkeeping so that Evelyn could "semi-retire" to her garden and volunteer work. Charley worked with the wood installation crews, and helped out in sales. He became involved in laminate flooring sales and installation (then new to the residential market). Laminate sales grew progressively fast. At one point, the Norton’s sold more Wilsonart laminate flooring than anyone in the Southeast. Where other stores were hesitant of selling something so different, Tom and Charley jumped right in, which again, was the Norton way.
In 1996, and in his late seventies, Jay started Nortons internet business, known as flooringwholesale.com. He advertised "absolute lowest prices" for floor covering products in several magazines such as Southern Living; and also on our website, www.flooringwholesale.com. Jay spent many hours learning the Internet and different ways to sell wholesale. Sales have expanded nationwide giving them something more they never had; a great mix in retail and wholesale. Then, almost ten years later, his grandson Jones Levenson remodeled the website to accommodate a more modern look, which allowed customers to buy products online, and eventually send business soaring.
In 1999, during another slow spell, the family decided to buy an old sewing plant in Wedowee, Alabama, which had been for sale for several years. Where smart businessmen would probably be cutting back, Tom and Charley jumped in deeper. Beginning with a slow start, the newly named "Norton’s Flooring", started to come into its own. By concentrating on doing whatever their competitors didn’t do. Tom and Charley began stocking large quantities of hardwood, laminate, carpet, and carpet tiles. Their sales staff were all experienced in installations so they could not only sell; but, advise the "do it yourselfers" on how to do the job, and could also furnish rental tools.
Jay Norton left the company in 2006 at the age of 88 to be with his lord. He is missed by all of us, but his legacy continues with Tom and Charley following the principles he and Evelyn started years ago. "Work hard, have faith, and hold on to the great principles our Lord taught us."
As Jay would say:
"Ya'll come, and bring your pick me up truck!"
The Norton Family
Our service and prices will amaze you. We also ship direct to our customers across the country, from over 40 of our suppliers’ warehouses. On many occasions, folks bring their "pick-me-up trucks", choose from stacks of hardwood, laminate, carpet, carpet squares, tile, etc and take it home with them
and save a LOT of money!!
Take a look at our warehouse, chock full of carpet and flooring bargains.
Website by: Jones Levenson