Open for Business: TLC Carpet One a family business about more than floors
With the foundation laid down four decades ago, the next generation of ownership for Craig’s TLC Carpet One Floor & Home stands on firm footing.
The local flooring business traces it origins back to 1977, when Jay Oxley first set up shop in Northwest Colorado, originally in Meeker.
From the ground up
Jay came to the region from the Front Range while a student at University of Northern Colorado and became interested in the recreational opportunities, as well as the potential to build a business.
However, one pursuit made the other more difficult.
“I came out here not realizing that, by opening my business, I’d rarely have time to do any hunting or fishing,” he said with a laugh.
Jay’s wife, Dotty, was studying nursing and later worked as a nurse in Craig in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The commute was problematic, and eventually, she presented her husband with an ultimatum to move a little farther north, leading Jay to move to Craig for good in 1983.
It’s a step Jay said worked for everyone, not the least of which was TLC itself, as having a hub in Craig allowed him to continue serving customers in Meeker while also gaining clients in Steamboat Springs.
“I’ve never looked back, and I probably could have had a larger business in another area, but we’ve enjoyed raising a family here,” he said.
Jay’s two sons, Kevin and Mark, came along shortly after the move. The family business provided summer jobs for the brothers during their teenage years, and for the past decade, Kevin has moved into a managerial role with his father. He graduated from Colorado State University in 2007, studying business and finance, and promptly moved back to Craig.
The next steps
TLC took on the Carpet One moniker in 2004 as a coop, though the Oxleys remain independent owners of the company.
“The reason we even went to them was to remain competitive with the Home Depots and the other big box stores of the world,” Kevin said.
“I enjoy working with my dad, I really do. I respect what he’s built up over the years. I’ve had other opportunities to leave the community and do things, but I love it here. I like working with people that I know here and the mutual appreciation of the community feeling.”
— Kevin Oxley
Retaining the original title is an important part of the service, Kevin said, as customers equate tile, linoleum, and carpet — which provides the company’s initials — with tender loving care.
Still, Kevin said getting more involved in the nitty-gritty of a business during a recession made for tough times.
“I almost left a couple times for the Front Range, once to open my own floor covering store and once to go be a banker, go into mortgage brokering,” he said. “My dad said to me, ‘If you stick with me and you can run a business in a bad economy, you damn sure can in a good one.'”
The offerings have expanded in recent years, now providing more home products, such as window coverings, cabinets, and countertops.
“For me, it’s interesting, having been born and raised into flooring,” Kevin said. “Don’t want to say nothing new happens in floors, but it’s nice to have those other categories I can make my own.”
Likewise, acquiring more warehouse space in recent years has allowed TLC to continue to grow.
Passing the torch
An element of any family business is the time spent outside the office, and fond memories of father and son enjoying football, hockey, and baseball together takes on new relevance for the son who’s now taking on similar duties as a father.
Moreover, the daily grind is made easier by working alongside the man who started it all and has continued to guide him.
“I enjoy working with my dad, I really do. I respect what he’s built up over the years,” Kevin said. “I’ve had other opportunities to leave the community and do things, but I love it here. I like working with people that I know here and the mutual appreciation of the community feeling.”
Kevin added another thing he’s proud of is the business’s role in community endeavors, including contributions to Boys & Girls Club of Craig, Kiwanis Club, Girls Scouts, and other organizations.
“Only in Craig, Colorado, can you effect change that way so quickly,” he said.
He also noted he hopes to see more Craig natives his age or younger either take the reins of successful family businesses or start their own.
“The younger generation is the way this town will keep moving forward like it has,” he said.
Jay joked that, when he does retire and fully hands over the reins, he likely will visit the office regularly to give his son a hard time before heading out to play golf. For now, he’s satisfied with the equilibrium he and Kevin have established.
“We fight like cats and dogs and have a great time doing it,” Jay joked. “Put it this way — I would have locked the doors a long time ago if I wasn’t able to come here every day and work with my son.”