The story of how we opened Mann Tile in Englewood, FL.
It was 1998…
in October when my wife Judy and I set up housekeeping in Englewood, Florida. We were coming from a short stay in Missouri and before that Colorado. I had told the store owners I met in these states that I was going to open a tile store in Florida, and asked if I could call for them for advice. We had four children back then and another on the way. We didn’t have much stuff, it all fit in a U-Haul trailer. I had been in the flooring trade for four years at the time of the move. We rented a small house in Englewood from my brother Paul (the bug killer!) and his wife Dori for the first year and I worked for a tile store in Venice.
I went home and told my wife about the sign, we totally couldn’t afford to open a tile store. Then, when I did call just to see, it was rented out. I just couldn’t seem to get my legs under me again, but thankfully, I still had income. And, I kept tiling for another several months. I thought to myself at one point how exciting it would be to have a store, and then at the next moment that we could never afford the costs associated with opening the doors. The doors seemed closed for good and I would be digging out of debt for the foreseeable future.
While searching the internet for some inspiration, I came across a group that would give a free business coaching session. It was a group in Ft. Myers known as Action Coach. I was so impressed with what they showed me about my business from the free coaching I signed up for a year of group coaching. They mentored me and taught me every other week and some other sessions each month for the entire year. And the “sign” showed up again in Englewood…
I was still in really bad shape financially but with a sigh I thought to myself, “things couldn’t get any worse!” So…I signed the lease and he handed me the key! I can still remember the excitement of unlocking the door for the first time. I remember bringing my wife to show her, Judy also had mixed feelings, but we were excited and hopeful. So for the next few months during evening hours and Saturdays I would go over to the store and start making it look like a tile store, our tile store. We even had the good fortune of a friend of our daughters’ who came down for a visit help paint the walls while she visited! We opened the doors in March of 2012. It’s like we had entered a totally different world. Josiah was helping me install and Carissa and Hannah were running the store. My children were working with me!
One of our biggest early challenges once opening the store was a big job that included three buildings and I under-bid it by two-thirds! That mistake costs so much more materials! On top of that, there were stairs to tile and I expected that they were all uniform from just checking a few. That mistake cost so much more labor! I thought this job would be the death of Mann Tile, but the team pulled together and we prevailed… by the skin of our teeth. This really served to sharpen my skills, and pencil! Another defining project was a balcony on Palm Island that we employed a water-proofing and outdoor balcony system complete with drip edge. It wasn’t a big project but I was really proud of it because I know we were providing a solution that I hadn’t seen any local contractors employing. We found a strong partner in Schluter Systems (responsible for the balcony project) for helping us go to the next level in solutions we provide for showers and floors.
The National Tile Contractor’s Association and the annual floor coverings event “Coverings” have also been very loyal and wise advisors as we seek to constantly improve. At this point we were feeling very prepared, until…
Toward the end of 2015 the FL Dept. Of Rev. engaged us in a challenge we hadn’t quite prepared for at this time. This proved to be without a doubt the biggest challenge that we have faced in Englewood since opening the store. There were times during the audit that I didn’t think it would go well for us, like we might not make it. Thankfully though, we had a great team by this time, in our office were Monica and Hannah. Also providing power of attorney was our accountant Barco’s, who worked with us, and fought with us. I call experiences like an audit a LION which is an acronym for Like It Or Not. From this experience we have learned best practices and are even more prepared to face even bigger and scarier challenges (but please not yet).
Now I can say we are Mann Tile, a tile store in Englewood that will educate you on all things tile while we deliver the highest level of service and the best practices in the industry. We are an asset to the community now and I have the privilege of working with some of my family while we serve our community.
If you are in, or near Englewood, please drop in or send us a note, we would love to meet you and join with you on your tiling adventure. We owe it to our mentors to share with you the knowledge we have gained. We would love for you to become part of our story as we move forward!