Follow-Up File: Cal Coast Carpet still diversifying

Name: Rob Fastlaben

Job: Owner

Business: Cal Coast Carpet Warehouse

What he said then: In March 2010, The Tribune featured Cal Coast Carpet Warehouse in Oceano. Owned by Rob and Debbie Fastlaben, the business had to adapt over two decades of business. Expanding beyond flooring, the store had just begun to carry and install granite and marble slabs for countertops.

“We wanted to offer a full package for household interiors,” Rob Fastlaben said.

“We saw a decline in the use of carpet in recent years,” he added. “People are going more into surfaces like stone, hardwood and tile.”

The store had already started carrying these and flooring materials, including laminate, cork and carpets made from recycled plastic bottles.

What he says now: Cal Coast Carpet Warehouse continues to diversify, leveraging the 15,000 square feet of showroom and warehouse space it owns to keep a wide supply of inventory on hand.

It has been recruited as the HGTV Home dealer for San Luis Obispo and Northern Santa Barbara counties, distributing Shaw flooring products.

“It’s also involved us with Sherwin-Williams paint,” Fastlaben said. “When somebody calls to HGTV looking for referrals, their zip code brings them right to us. That’s probably one of the most watched channels for home improvement.”

Since early fall, the showroom features displays and products associated with HGTV Home. The home and garden network also promotes the products on its website.

Cal Coast was also approached to represent Stainmaster carpet, a popular brand owned by Invista.

By adding granite and other countertop materials, the Oceano store has kept growth steady.

Being able to bundle various products for one customer’s remodel or construction project boosts not only the store’s sales, but it can offer the buyer a discount for the package.

To set the store apart from fabricators that specialize in granite and marble, the store is beginning to carry slabs that are precut and pre-polished. “We’re having to diversify,” Fastlaben said, adding that window coverings might be the next product added.

The bulk of customers lately are remodeling homeowners, upgrading hoteliers and landlords performing tenant improvements, Fastlaben said. But he reports his “old-time builders” are beginning to break ground on more construction projects after several years of a slump in this market.

Last year was “significantly up” in sales compared to 2010 for the store, but was also odd due to an unusual spike in spending in the first quarter — usually a slow time in his business.

“Last year this time we were overwhelmed with work,” Fastlaben said. “The first part of January (2012) was slow, but it looks like we’re getting back on track. We’re pretty busy right now.”

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