Flooring business family learns value of succession planning the hard way.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015 journalrecord.com Vol. 120, No. 43 • Two Sections
BY DAVID PAGE, THE JOURNAL RECORD: 

OKLAHOMA CITY – The future of Bentley Flooring was in question after third-generation owner Steven Bentley Sr. died suddenly in November 2011. 

“We did not have a succession plan,” said Steven Bentley Jr., who is now president of the family business. Today Steven and his brother, Nick Bentley, chief operations officer, are the fourth generation to operate Bentley Flooring, 3844 NW Eighth St. in Oklahoma City. “After our dad died we went through a process with our mother to decide if we wanted to continue with the business,” Steven Bentley said. “We decided we did want to continue.” Without a succession plan, it took about a year to work out the details. “We talked with the banks and the bonding companies,” Steven Bentley said. “We talked with the employees.” Their mother, Sally Bentley, became chairman of the board with Steven as president and Nick as chief operations officer. A fourth family member, Barbara B. Philbin, Steven and Nick’s aunt, works in job profitability and sales support. “In hindsight, we highly recommend a succession plan,” Nick Bentley said. 

It all started in 1946. After returning from duty in World War II, Earl W. Bentley, Steven and Nick’s grandfather, joined with his father, Bill Bentley, at a tire store. “A customer needed some carpet,” Steven Bentley said. “He (Earl Bentley) found some and that was the beginning of Bentley Flooring.” From that start, Bentley Flooring has grown to a commercial flooring company with 40 employees. “Going into 2013 Mom brought in a third-party consulting firm to get an outside point of view,” Steven Bentley said. “That gave us the ability to take an unbiased view of what was going on. We were able to rearrange some things and that helped us out.” Bentley Flooring works with contractors,  architects and designers to install flooring including carpet, linoleum, laminate, wood floors, ceramic, porcelain, natural stone, granite and glass tile on floors, walls and countertops.

Employees include 20 installers. 

Much of Bentley Flooring’s recent work has been in the medical facilities. “We did all four St. Anthony Healthplexes,” Steven Bentley said. Other medical flooring projects included Integris Health Edmond Hospital, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, and the Charles and Peggy Stephenson Cancer Center. 

Education flooring projects include Frontier Elementary School in Edmond, Hennessey High School, Mustang High School, Prairie View Elementary School in Mustang and the University of Central Oklahoma Forensic Sciences Institute.

Other projects include the Devon Boathouse, the AAA Call Center, Bob Moore Cadillac, The Grand Casino Hotel Resort, the Mitch Park YMCA in Edmond and Chesapeake Energy. “We installed about 100,000 yards of carpet for Chesapeake,” Steven Bentley said. 

Bentley Flooring was awarded two 2014 Build Oklahoma Awards in the Specialty Contractors category from the Associated General Contractors of Oklahoma for the Mitch Park YMCA and Prairie View Elementary School. 

The Edmond Recreation and Aquatic Center at the Mitch Park YMCA was an extremely complex project, Steven Bentley said. The project in cludes 41,000 square feet of porcelain and ceramic tile. “Besides flooring, the porcelain and ceramic tile was installed on walls, pool decks, desks, a grand staircase and the elevator shaft,” he said. “Each piece of porcelain and tile on the elevator shaft had to be custom cut on-site in order for the pattern to work as drawn.” Bentley Flooring’s part of the project required about 6,000 labor hours. “Most people just see the pretty end result and don’t realize the complexities involved in installation, such as the 12-by-24 porcelain on the locker room walls,” Steven Bentley said. “This heavy material had to be properly integrated with the mosaic tile floors to allow proper weight transition.” 

Steven Bentley started working in the family business as an installer when he was a teenager. “I started when I was about 15,” he said. “I worked three summers with installation.” He continued to work summers after he started college at the University of Oklahoma. “I continued to work summers through college until I had my first year of sales,” he said. “I realized I could make more money and I left OU and started working full time.” He left the family business, but returned to it.  “I did some other jobs from 1997 to 2007 but came back,” Steven Bentley said.

Nick Bentley joined the family business in 2009. “I graduated from OU in 1999 and moved to Nashville (Tennessee),” Nick Bentley said. “It just seemed like a fun place to be.” He worked in sales for a technology company as a manufacturing representative in the flooring industry. “After Dad passed away we decided the best use for me was in operations – accounting and the back office,” Nick Bentley said. “Steven does the sales and I am in back-of-the-office help.” 

Brothers Nick Bentley, left, chief operations officer of Bentley Flooring in Oklahoma City, and Steven Bentley Jr., president. PHOTO BY BRENT FUCHS

 

Among Bentley Flooring’s projects are, from left, Frontier Elementary School in Edmond, Mitch Park YMCA Aquatic Center in Edmond and Integris Health Edmond Hospital. COURTESY PHOTOS