Stories in Entrepreneurship

Scott Appel

Co-founder and CEO of Touch of Color Flooring

How did you become an entrepreneur?

It was a fluke. I was a bored high school teacher with a summer off. I went to visit my best friend in Harrisburg. This was the summer of 2002. And the rest is history. We founded Touch of Color Flooring out of the garage of my friend's mother's townhouse. We started from scratch from humble beginnings, and in fact, I shared a bedroom and slept on a mattress on the floor for 6 months until we had some sales to justify me getting my own place. Today we have 145 employees and should do $50MM in sales in 2017.

 

What is your vision for the future of your company? Of your community?

I will give you our current vision statement here -- we will be number one or number two in any channel we choose to focus on in any of our geographic regions. In other words, we wish to dominate the market in the markets we are in. In order to compete with the big box stores, mass merchants, and private equity money buying up major players, we need to be bigger and bolder in order to compete.

As for the community, we love to give back. We support numerous charities throughout the region including The PA Breast Cancer Foundation, The American Cancer Society, DC Wings of Hope, Pet Smart Pet Charities, St Jude's Children's Research Hospital, and many more. In fact, we encourage all 145 of our staff members to take a day off with pay to support their favorite local charity. We also match up to $300 every staff member makes every year to the charity of their choice.


What has been the biggest challenge to creating a new venture?

Since I had no business experience, every day poised a new challenge when we started. It was totally trial by fire. We used the "fake it ‘til you make it" philosophy and figured things out as we went. Now we have some good experience and have developed expertise in our craft. For me personally, I went back to school for my MBA and have supported several other staff members in furthering their education.

 

What advice would you give to an earlier version of yourself?

Be nicer to people. I used to get upset when things didn't go the way I thought they should go. I have learned to communicate better to get my point across without getting angry.

 

Tell me about your biggest surprise or lesson learned as an entrepreneur?

My biggest surprise is it is so much harder than I thought it would be. When we started I was very young and naive. I didn't know what I didn't know. But now I realize in order to succeed you have to live and breathe your business. There is no such thing as a 9-5.

 

What question did I miss? What else should I know about you?

I am a Stage 2 Melanoma Cancer Survivor. I have been cancer-free for 2 years. I have a mean-looking scar that I wear as a badge of honor. I love extreme sports including MMA, Spartan Races, and Crossfit.

7/26/2017

About Scott Appel

Scott Appel is the co-founder and CEO of Touch of Color Flooring, a Central PA based flooring company with B2B and B2C models. Serving on several professional boards over the years, including a 5-year tenure on the Executive Committee of the World Floor Covering Association, Scott is a seasoned floor covering and interior home furnishings business entrepreneur, leader, & strategist. He is an expert in business start-ups, sales & sales management, training, motivation, and procurement. As Co-Founder & CEO of multiple business entities across the states of PA and VA, Scott has helped to create and grow a multi-million dollar company, currently with twelve profit centers, servicing multiple channels and verticals of the floor covering and home building industries. Scott and his business partner started the company with very humble beginnings from zero dollars in sales, and in fact, he slept on a mattress on the floor of his business partner's mother's house for six months when they first started. From these scrappy roots they learned to weather any storm, including the worst days of the Great Recession. Now Scott’s company is thriving, currently with over 145 employees, and set to hit $50 million in total sales in 2017. But they do not rest on their laurels. They study the market, competitors, and customers. They ask a lot of questions and listen more than they speak. Scott is a big believer in win-win and says “there is always a way to collaborate to find win-win by asking the right questions.”

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