Saulnier Floors, Inc. began operations in 1951 as a hardwood flooring specialist near Boston, Mass. While remaining family owned, the company has grown from a two-man shop to what is now the largest flooring company in Boston’s North Shore. About a decade ago, the company expanded into epoxy floors, and Saulnier Epoxy Floors was born.
Jake Andrews, a third-generation member of the family business, is president of the epoxy flooring arm. After starting with a focus on residential garages, the business has grown to include larger commercial jobs, too — like their work at the Camp Sunshine retreat in Casco, Maine, as profiled in the March 2023 issue of CoatingsPro Magazine.
“Never forget where you started,” Andrews said. “I think the difference between some of these franchises and family-owned businesses is that we care, and we come off like normal people. People trust you more, but you have to maintain that sense of trust. You can’t just, say, ‘Oh, it’s a one-car garage, whatever, we had to take care of this big project. No, you have to treat everyone equally. You have to maintain quality and customer service throughout that growth.”
Andrews didn’t always know he’d join the family business. He said the possibility was in the back of his mind, but he had an “entrepreneur mindset.” That led to discussions with his uncle about a specialized installation business, and the rest is history.
“Your drive, your hustle, and your mentality is, ‘I want to make my family proud,’” Andrews explained. “I want to expand on the legacy that we currently have. You have your tough times, you have your good times, but no matter what, you’re with family. You’re with your blood, and you’re doing something together.”
That dynamic extends to family values, which permeate the company. At Camp Sunshine, for instance, the client didn’t have the money for its desired solution — so Saulnier worked with the coating manufacturer, Sika, to donate materials and labor.
“It’s always been a cornerstone of our family to be able to help others out, especially with education and children,” Andrews said. “I have a one-year-old daughter, so seeing and hearing about these younger children, it really hit home.”
Andrews credits much of his company’s success to its workers and the consistency of its crews. “We were blessed to have a great team before COVID hit,” he said. “We had a nice crew, and especially with two of our foremen.”
Since then, given workforce development challenges, staff retention has become crucial. “Relationships and finances are the two most important things when it comes to maintaining a workforce,” Andrews said. “People don’t always have to be 100% happy, but at least maintain a good environment where their voices are heard. Communication is super important. And if they’re doing a really good job, working extra hours and doing things to help the company succeed, you have to reward them. We show as much appreciation to them as possible, and we treat them like family.”
New England Niche
While Saulnier can work in other locations, the New England region is its bread and butter. Over the years, the company’s focus on that market has allowed Saulnier’s leadership to account for its unique conditions.
“You learn from your mistakes,” Andrews said. “When I first started off, we messed up a lot by not being able to appropriately build systems to handle certain kinds of moisture. For example, if you’re going to areas in Cape Cod, you have to have a moisture plan. We have a lot of old buildings and old spaces as well, so we have to deal with self-leveling, concrete preparation, and foundations.”
As always, communication is critical. “You have to schedule these jobs appropriately,” Andrews said. “If you’re working here in the winter, you may have to tell them, ‘I know we had this job scheduled for this date, but due to temperatures or weather conditions, we may need to push you back.’ It comes down to communication with the customer.”
For an accomplished contracting business with quality crews, the actual installation process can be routine. The devil is in the details, and specifically the planning, according to Andrews. “Epoxy installations are easy,” he said. “It’s everything that goes into it before the installation… that’s a lot to take in. You have to live through it, do your research, and be careful. You can’t cut corners.”
This article was originally published in the May issue of CoatingsPro. Reprinted with permission.