Gymnasium Floors, Inc. – An Interview with Owner Robert Watts

SOUTH SHORE BUSINESS REVIEW - gymnasium floors inc

Author: William Watts, BSU student

​I’ve seen what it takes to run a business up close and personal for about my whole life. My father, Robert Watts, has owned a gym floor refinishing business, Gymnasium floors Inc., since 2001. I remember going to work with him when I was younger but never understood what it really took until I started to get older and eventually end up working for him. I was lucky enough to sit down and ask him questions about the business and what is needed to be successful.

He first explained how he ended up owning the business and the story behind it, “…I was in sales at the time when my uncle called me. He asked me what I wanted to do, and I explained that I wanted to own a business. And my uncle was telling me that his friend was selling a business. He got us in touch and a few months later I ended up purchasing the business.” Being a new business owner, my dad had to overcome difficulties, “It was a gymnasium floor business…I didn’t have any knowledge or expertise in the field, but my background was in sales, and I knew I could sell. But now I had to learn how to run a business.” He explained the new challenges that came along, “…I had to manage the business, there’s vans, employees, payroll. And I found that to be difficult.”
I then asked my dad what he would have done differently when he first started out, “I don’t know if I’d do anything differently, I look back on it and I think I’ve made a lot of good decisions. And that’s part of it, almost everyday you have to make a decision that’s going to impact the business.” When my dad said that it brought me back to the times, he would remind me about making decisions. This point is true with business and with life. After we talked about the difficulties he had starting out, I asked about the difficulties now in 2020. “because the economy is doing so well, everyone’s employed. And its hard to find employees. Also, everything is changing, there is a lot of rules and regulations to follow because you want to do everything right.”
When I started to work for my dad when I was 18, I’d spend every summer refinishing gym floors. I usually call him before I start working on every gym floor just to go over everything so there is no mistakes, my dad talks about what makes this company different than its competitors, “the previous owner was doing about 75-80 gyms a year, and now we are up to 300 if not more every year, my job is to sell and to prove to my customers that we are different. What makes us great is that we treat our customers like our friends. Before we start the gym floor process we go in and teach the customer about the job that is going to take place. Then we go in and do the job, we make sure it is done right. Then after, I go in and teach them how to clean the floor and maintain. We are full circle.” 

Emmanuel floor before sanding

Emmanuel floor after sanding

One of the reasons why the company is so successful is because of the employees. I’ve become friends with almost all the employees and enjoy working with them. I have never been around a more hard-working group of people before and it pushes me to become a better worker. My dad also explains how him, and the employees interact about the floors, “I always tell my guys, I just want the floor to be perfect. But it is very difficult to make everything perfect. When I say perfect, I think they know what I mean. And that means doing the very best you can and strive for perfection. So, when I say make it perfect, we know that we are trying to make it as perfect as we can.”

I also asked if technology could play a bigger roll in the business. He answered, “of course, we have a great website, but we could definitely improve in that aspect. We are looking into doing YouTube videos and starting up an Instagram account. We should, we could, and we will in the upcoming future.” We always talk about incorporating social media and hopefully I will be able to help in that category.

I wrapped up the interview by asking how the company brings in new customers, “…right now its word of mouth, not advertising. We have a very good reputation. Everyone loves our guys and loves doing business with us. It sells itself.”

The company is looking forward to another successful summer and always trying to improve after every year and leaving the customer happy. 

Gymnasium Floors Inc. is located at 187 Page St #5 in Stoughton, MA.

Contact them via:
Phone: 617-293-3452  or  800-870-3577