Learn more about FSG’s recently promoted Vice President, Kal Rihawi!
Before we dive in, tell us about yourself. How old are you? What’s your background and education? When you graduated high school, what was your overall plan or goal for your career? Do you have a degree? If so, in what field and from where?
I’m 29, I graduated from Penn State with a degree in Logistics and Information Systems. When I graduated high school I knew I wanted to work in small business and follow a more “entrepreneurial” path where I could impact and grow a company. After college I found myself working for an international chemical shipper in Houston Texas. It wasn’t for me, I needed something more hands-on where I could make a bigger impact for my colleagues and clients. I’ve found that, and more, with FSG.
How did you end up in your current position? Have you worked previously in the floor care industry? If so, for what organizations? What was/were your job title(s)? How long have you been with your company? How long have you been in current position? What are some of you daily duties/responsibilities?
I actually interned with this company for two years while in college. At that time I focused on programming and developing our previous information system. I learned a lot about how technology can tie into the floorcare and installation industry with regards to pricing, planning, and implementation and really enjoyed my position. After college I had the travel bug and wanted to experience living elsewhere in the US so I moved to Texas. However I could not stay away from flooring too long as I found my self back with FSG in 2017. I’ve now been here for over three years and recently promoted from Operations Manager to Vice President. I manage all operations for the company (purchasing, scheduling, project planning, etc.) and execute sales when opportunities present themselves with a focus on long-term company growth.
Why floor care? What about the industry attracted you? What other industries/careers did you consider? What are some benefits and disadvantages of working in floor care? What previous experience or knowledge did you have of the floor care industry? How did you gain that experience or insight?
Two attributes of floorcare attracted me – sustainability and growth. In today’s world, sustainability is key. There is no reason anyone should be changing their floor covering unless they are tired of the look and ready to re-brand. With proper floorcare and restoration practices, we, along with our Starnet partners, have proven that coverings such as carpet can far surpass their traditional “shelf-life” and don’t need to be re-installed unless you’re ready for a new look. If it can last 1000 years in a landfill, there’s no reason it shouldn’t last that long in our clients space. I also believe there’s lots of room for growth and development in the floorcare industry, lots of our current clients hadn’t even heard of “Floorcare Programs” until we pitched it to them and quickly understood the value of securing their investments. Lastly, none of this is possible without education and training. I owe all of my knowledge to our company’s President, Chip Grimes, and our partners at Starnet FloorCare. We are still innovating and up for the challenge to change the industry.
What growth potential or opportunities do you see for yourself with your current company? What growth potential or opportunities do you see within the floor care industry for your company?
Within my own company I see myself further improving our processes and our employees’ livelihood by obtaining more work and field practices that continue to focus on safety and production. Growth for myself and the company will come naturally as we continue to grow our brand while staying true to our SOPs and results. I see us being very involved in implementing process improvements to help streamline other companies in our industry while maintaining standards and customer satisfaction.
What would you tell other people your age about the floor care industry? What are some misconceptions about floor care that you find amongst millennials? What can the floor care industry do to encourage others in your generation to come aboard?
Lots of people in my age group would look at the floorcare industry as “boring” or “mundane” when compared to other growing industries, especially with regards to technology. To those people, I would say the opportunities are endless and really come down to how far you’re willing to push yourself and your peers. When I joined FSG I knew that I wanted to incorporate some tech advancements I’ve seen Fortune 500 companies incorporating to streamline efficiencies and performance. We are incomparable in size to these companies, but the processes and ideologies remain the same. You need to be willing to challenge standards and (not re-invent) but “innovate” the “wheel” in this industry in order to make lasting change. You will face many people set in their ways that think you’re “crazy”, but the success is worth the challenge. When thinking about the future of your company, don’t hold yourself back to where you currently stand. Think globally, act locally.
What advice do you have for floor care companies wanting to hire millennials? How can they capture the attention of your generation? What qualities should they be looking for in candidates?
I would say you REALLY need to find people with an entrepreneurial/small business mindset. This is definitely not a 9-5 corporate job. Everyday you will face new questions and challenges which will require research and experimentation. There’s a very special feeling that comes from knowing you worked hard to solve an issue, and now a client or co-worker is ecstatic due to your results. People who are results driven would do well in this industry.