Wood Talk: Lisbeth Calandrino and Associates

Photo courtesy of Lisbeth Calandrino

Lisbeth Calandrino is the Chief Inspiration Officer of her own business, the associate editor of Fabulous Floors Magazine, and author of “Red Hot Customer Service.” She consults with flooring retailers and manufacturers conducting customer service, sales, and product knowledge seminars.

Calandrino recently was featured on the NWFA Wood Talk podcast, so Hardwood Floors magazine caught up with her to ask a few more questions.

Tell us something interesting about yourself.
I’ve been interested in cars and engines since I was young. After I took a class in small engine repair in junior high school, my dad would come home and I would have his concrete mixer or a lawnmower taken apart. Ultimately, I became his ‘go-to’ mechanic. I later had at least two or three antique cars in my garage in various states of restoration. Last year, I went down to Skip Barber Racing School in Birmingham, Alabama, and hung out at the track just to get that smell of burnt rubber. 

How did you get started in the industry?
I always wanted my own business, but it was harder in the 1960s. I first worked as a buyer for a women’s clothing business, then I taught psychology at a college, and worked as a supervisor in a home for troubled girls. My mom had a friend who wanted to sell his furniture store, so my sister and another partner bought the business. Eventually, we developed five other units and added carpet and other flooring to our mix.  

What is the best business advice you have been given?
My dad was super at working out problems and loved the people who worked for him and his customers. He always said that the customer isn’t always right, but if you want them for customers, you had better make them right.

What energizes you to stay in the wood flooring industry?
I am energized by the craftsman who installs the product. The installation business is getting closer to a brand makeover, and I want to be part of this. They have always been referred to as the “installers,” but there’s always a shortage, and they should have better recognition since they are the backbone of our industry. The competitive advantage now has become experience, not price or product. Where is a better place for our industry to create this advantage than through the installation of our products? 

What are you listening to right now?
I love podcasts with people who talk about business and personal growth. A few I’m listening to include The Jordan Harbinger Show, How I Built This, Stuff You Should Know, and Masters of Scale.

Do you have a morning routine that sets you up for success?
My morning routine has been hampered by COVID-19. I consider myself a gym rat. I’m a personal trainer and usually would spend two hours daily at the gym, doing weight training, yoga, and Pilates. Since I’ve been unable to go to the gym, I now get up at 5:00 in the morning, meditate, and jog three miles with a group. 

What keeps you busy outside of work?
I love gardening – I have a small greenhouse,  and have just gotten a beehive. With all of the extra time I spent at home in 2020, I started baking pies. I volunteer at the local community radio station (WCAA 107.3 FM in Albany, New York) and teach an entrepreneurship program to high school students. 

You can listen to a more in-depth discussion between Lisbeth Calandrino and NWFA’s Brett Miller, as well as other hardwood flooring experts by visiting hardwoodfloorsmag.com/nwfa-wood-talk-podcast

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