Deborah Cypert is an O.G. in the flooring game. As owner of Interior Vision Floors and Decorating, the 63-year-old has been in the industry for more than 30 years. From her shop in Soquel, she oversees the carpeting, corking, decorating and beautifying of local homes.
These days, Cypert doesn’t have to do all the work alone. Her flourishing business boasts six full-time employees, each an expertly trained flooring ninja well versed in the art of hardwood, linoleum, rugs, window coverings and the many varieties of carpet.
How has business been during the Covid-19 crisis? Good—surprisingly good.
“We’ve actually been busier than ever with Covid,” says Cypert. “So many people are staying home, and they finally have the time and energy to do projects and beautify their home. Because they are spending so much more time there, they are coming to us to make their homes more comfortable.”
Cypert says the best part of her job is transforming peoples’ lives by making their living spaces feel beautiful, clean and fresh. And she works tirelessly to make people feel happy, comfortable, and at home in their homes.
Many of Interior Vision’s clients call the company to address an area in their home that has been neglected–either a nagging eyesore or a feature that just don’t feel right at the end of a day. Demand for such projects has skyrocketed since the onset of Covid-19.
With all the time spent at home, that yellow shag carpet—yep, the one you bought thinking it was so cool and trendy during that one-summer hippie phase—could really, really start to weigh on your nerves. Those with a carpet crisis, or another type of flooring emergency, call Cypert to set things right.
Pre-pandemic, around 5% of Americans worked from home at least part of the time. Today, that figure is estimated to be closer to 25-30%. This trend is expected to continue and may actually climb in the post-pandemic world.
So, what are people looking for these days? One of this year’s hottest sellers for Interior Vision have been window coverings, Cypert says. Those who are working from their abodes routinely hit up the firm to install blackout shades so they can better view their computer screens.
Of course, Cypert and her team have had to adapt to the pandemic. This meant wearing masks, gloves, practicing social distancing and slathering on hand sanitizer pretty much from day one.
Overcoming the initial shutdown was stressful, and it’s taken a while for customers to truly warm up to the idea of inviting a strange crew of expert flooring technicians parading into their homes.
“At first, like everyone, we didn’t know what to expect,” says Kathy Cooper, operations manager at Bay Area Floors. “But then business started booming. Especially in the residential sector. It was slow when the pandemic started, but after a few months people started feeling more comfortable. They were like, ‘OK now we’re at home, what can we do to make our space better and more livable?”
Bay Area Floors has been active in Santa Cruz since 2009, and Cooper says improvement in the local economy overall has been a huge factor. “As other businesses have started to reopen, we’re seeing an even greater increase in our business. The strength has been totally surprising.”
Of course, home-improvement companies have had to change the way they operate—for instance, moving to phone and video consultations.
“The virus has changed the way we do business for sure,” Cypert says. “It’s also made us more efficient and effective. Reaching and handling more people each day.”
Another adjustment has been that across the flooring space, and in most areas of the construction world, materials are getting much harder to source and obtain. From lighting to windows to flooring to wood to plumbing fixtures, demand is outpacing supply.
“It used to be getting items in days,” says Cypert. “That became a week. And now it can be 3-6 weeks or even more. Products taking longer to arrive, and it’s affecting the entire industry. It’s making people wait much longer to have the products they pick out ready to be installed.”
Covid-19 has had an impact on every level of the global supply chain. And if someone at a manufacturing plant contracts the virus, it’s common practice to shut down the entire operation. Staff shortages due to infection and government rules and precautions have created a backlog in orders. Prices for almost all materials are rising, and the rates for overseas transport and shipping containers have shot through the roof—container costs rose a whopping 100% just this past year. These expenses are typically passed on to the consumer.
But in this time of uncertainty, businesses in the home-remodeling space are poised to grow well until the future.
“It’s a good time to be in the flooring business,” says Cooper. “Demand is high. As is demand for labor. If anyone is an installer—carpet, vinyl, or hardwood—we’re actively hiring. It would be a great time to learn this trade and enter the space.”