Our Towns

Don Booth Keeps Feet on Solid Ground in North Jackson

NORTH JACKSON, Ohio – Don Booth recalls completing a job on a new house in Canfield in the early 1950s – just three days before Christmas – when the contractor he was working for as a carpenter handed out the crew’s paychecks along with some bad news.

“He said that he didn’t have anything else going on,” says Booth, then freshly out of the military. “He said he’d give us a call when he landed something.”

Not one to wait, Booth took a job at the Ravenna Arsenal as an inspector for about a year but continued to perform carpentry work on the side. “This older couple in Warren was looking for someone to redo their bathroom floor and walls with tile, and somebody told him about me,” he remembers.

With no credit and very little cash, Booth found it hard to secure the proper materials and equipment to do the job. Then, his stepfather intervened, told the distributor to provide the materials on credit, and guaranteed that if Booth couldn’t repay him, his stepfather would.

“I got all of the tile on credit and did the job in Warren,” he says. “I paid for the tile and then paid for the tile cutter.” Based on this project, the customers recommended Booth to friends, and once he finished that job, the recommendations started to snowball.

That was in 1954, and so the Don Booth Co. was born.

Since then, the business has expanded into a regional supplier of floor coverings to commercial and residential accounts within 50 miles of the Mahoning Valley. These products include area rugs, vinyl flooring, hardwood, laminate, tile and carpet.

As business grew, Booth, today 88 years old and retired, constructed a new building in the center of North Jackson and expanded from there. It wasn’t long before that building proved too small to accommodate the company’s growth, leading Booth to buy land along state Route 45, where the business operates today.

“When I started, the big seller was linoleum,” Booth says with a laugh.

No longer, says his son, Chuck Booth, who succeeded his father as president. The flooring business has changed dramatically as have consumer tastes over the years, he says, and the Don Booth Co. has adapted to new demands in the market.

“Right now, the fastest-growing product is floating vinyl,” the younger Booth says. “It’s waterproof, quieter, and they make it for residential and commercial applications. That’s the big item right now.”

Luxury vinyl floating floor products are attractive because many of the patterns are facsimiles of actual wood planks taken from everyday products such as railroad ties to those found in historic structures.

The company has become the largest dealer of area rugs in Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties, Chuck Booth says. “Carpet is still a big item, but that market is shrinking,” he says. “Most of your new homes are hardwood, or ceramic. You might have the master bedroom in carpet.”

The company continues to diversify its customer base as it serves both residential and commercial accounts. “When one segment of the market goes down, the others are up,” the younger Booth says. “So we’re pretty well diversified.”

Moreover, the company carries products from more than 50 manufacturers, 20 alone in its area rug department, he notes. This allows customers to source flooring from the highest-quality manufacturers in the country, some of which are difficult to find in the Mahoning Valley.

“We try to have everything available that you can get. Whether it’s in New York or Chicago, we like to have those same items for the people in Youngstown,” he says. “We have pricing that fits everyone’s budget, so we try to cover every aspect of it.”

The elder Booth recalls one of the company’s largest accounts was supplying the Arby’s restaurant chain across the country with all of its carpet. “We shipped Arby’s carpet all over the United States,” he says.

However, when Arby’s was sold and moved its headquarters to Georgia, Don Booth Co. lost the business. Even so, the commercial work still remains strong and the company has secured industrial projects such as renovations at General Motors Co.’s Lordstown Complex.

“We still drive GM vehicles today,” Chuck Booth says, adding the company bought the first Chevrolet van to roll off the line when the van plant began production. Don Booth Co. also bought the first Cavalier wagon when that model started production. “I think we bought 24 of them,” he adds.

The church remodeling market also remains “very strong,” he says. “We’ve built up a nice customer base over the years.”

Employees tend to stay with the company a long time, the Booths say, as they point toward Jack Pittman’s office.

“I’ve been with the company now for 46 years,” Pittman says, a measurer for the company. “I started as an installer for about 20 years and I stepped up and started to measure.”

Today, he uses a laser measure for both speed and accuracy. “It saves all sorts of time,” he remarks.

After 63 years, the Don Booth Co. shows no signs of slowing and continues to draw new customers every day, Chuck Booth says.

“We’re very busy,” he says. “Our customers, employees and installers are loyal to us. Our youngest crew member has been with us 30 years.”

Pictured: Daughters Lori Delvecchio and Pam Kubic and son Chuck Booth stand next to their father, Don Booth, who founded the company.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.