Floors so beautiful, it’s a shame to walk on them.
It’s not often that a flooring contractor floors me. As an ex-painting contractor I got to see a lot of homes, several thousand to be exact. And as a painting contractor you see all the good and bad of all the other trades that have gone before you. Most of the time what you see is unremarkable, some of it is just crap and a very small percentage deliver work that is truly one of a kind. John Yarema is a flooring contractor whose body of work is in the 1%. His team delivers unparalleled in exceptional design and execution.
To say that John Yarema is simply a flooring contractor is a disservice to John and his team. Quite frankly the scope of his team’s work goes well beyond just custom and reaches into the realm of art. Recently I had the privilege to speak with John about his work, passion and why the tools he and his crew uses have to be the absolute best.
The Unusual Journey from Systems Engineer to Flooring Contractor
From a systems engineer to the premier flooring contractor in the US today, John’s journey is atypical of most trade professionals. While the work was steady and the pay comfortable John felt he was missing out on something. So after 5 years of pushing buttons John and his wife Lisa purchased a one-room schoolhouse built in the 1850’s. Everything was wrong with this house, from a leaky roof to bats and raccoons taking up residence alongside them.
The schoolhouse was John’s first foray into remodeling anything. In fact, unlike most trade pro’s John had no legacy of woodworking to fall back on. He has no formal training in being a flooring contractor much less anything else woodworking. He and his wife attacked the schoolhouse with a passion for restoring its original condition and updating it to make it liveable to today’s standards. In that they succeeded, but when it came to the floor, John wanted to make a statement that was a testament to the history of the home. He wanted them to be “authentic in nature, honest, a chapter from the past.”
So he felled an oak tree that was on the property and began to fashion his own planks that eventually were fastened with walnut pegs. After looking at the finished floor John knew that going back to being a systems engineer would never give him the satisfaction that he received from creating something from just the raw materials and the vision in his head.
The Best Flooring Contractor Demands the Best Tools
John came to my attention when he sent me an email describing his love affair with Bosch jig saws. In fact his note was simple, “Last year I bought eight jigsaws to create the tree Floor for the White Horse Inn in Metamora Michigan. I bought 4 Bosch, 3 Makita, and 1 Dewalt jigsaws. The Makitas and the Dewalt saws ALL burned up before the project was even finished. In their defense we push our tools hard through hardwoods every day. However, The Bosch jig saws are still ALL out in the field and running perfectly.”
When I spoke with John on the phone he reiterated that when he buys tools as a flooring contractor he does not look at the prices, but at the long term performance of a tool. Tool ownership costs are not determined by the initial cost, but by the long term performance of the tool. Why buy a cheap tool that you will replace after only a year or so. To John (and many other pros) buying a tool that will perform for many years is worth the investment. Not only does the tool cost less over time, but the cost associated with repairing the tool, down time because the tool fails and the cost of frustration are also factors to be considered.
As a flooring contractor you are usually under tight deadlines. And with the quality of work that John and his crew produce sometimes meeting a deadline can be difficult. The last thing John, or any flooring contractor wants is to have to blame a delay on an inferior tool. His clients (many of which are captains of industry and Fortune 500 firms) trust that John will create a one of a kind masterpiece in their home or business. Having a tool fail is the last thing he needs to worry about.
Big Jobs, Big Names, Big Pressure
John has 23 years’ experience in being a flooring contractor, and in that time he has taught himself most of what he knows. In that time he has also amassed one of the most impressive client lists and flooring contractor could dream of. While I cannot tell you the names of the clients, I can share with you that at least one of his clients flies him and his crew and all their tools by private jet to jobs. John’s crew works all over the world and their reputation among high profile clients is unparalleled.
Most of the work John and his crews do are performed in a combination of his three shops. These outposts of flooring wizardry are where John’s crew assembles the floor prior to installation and then breaks it down, numbers it and then ships it to the client’s location. Some remote jobs require John to conceptualize the work at the location and then he and his team create the masterpiece in the shop and then they ship it to the location. In either case, it is John’s vision to create something more than what the customer expected that drives him. I will venture to say that I would be “floored” just to walk on one of his floors, as most of his work could be classified as art.
Because John works for very elite clientèle, he has loads of stories of idiosyncrasies of his clients. They either fall in one of two camps. One the one hand you have the client who knows what they want and delivers John a very detailed description of the work. Sometimes even penning their own design sketches. In other cases, the client (after seeing Johns body of work as a flooring contractor) leave it up to John to design a floor that fits with the space. John tells me that while he appreciates direction from clients, he feels his best work is when he is able to use his creativity freely and deliver something truly remarkable. We would agree.
Going Above & Beyond – The Mark of a Pro Flooring Contractor
In speaking with John, who is about as down to earth as they come, I realized that he is the true definition of the ‘artisan pro’. This is the professional tradesperson that will not accept anything other than the very best from himself or his team. John’s exceptional talent and artistic vision set him apart, but it is the execution of the work that puts him on a higher plane than most professional contractors. I believe that most contractors aspire to achieve the level of quality that John produces. I realize not all contractors work for a “name your price” client, but we can all Be The Pro when it comes to delivering dedication and professionalism and not accepting anything but the best results.
To see the full catalog of John Yarema’s work, visit his website at http://www.johnyarema.com. If you are like me, you’ll bookmark it. Here are just a few images from his impressive body of work as a flooring contractor.