In 2004, Willie Short opened his own flooring business, Willie James Quality Flooring, near Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Today, he also is the owner of Coastal Inspection Services LLC. Short is an NWFA Certified Wood Flooring Inspector, Certified Installation Professional, and Certified Sand & Finish Professional, has been an instructor at NWFA trainings and was on Hardwood Floors magazine’s 40 Under 40 list in 2017.
Short was recently featured on the NWFA Wood Talk podcast, so Hardwood Floors magazine caught up with him to ask a few more questions.
Tell us something interesting about yourself. I love boxing, and I try to get training in as much as possible. Last year, I did a tournament in Houston and won the heavyweight division.
How did you get started in the industry? When I was 18 years old, a friend of mine’s stepdad did wood flooring and put me on an edger. I absolutely hated running the edger because I’m 6’4”, and it was really tough, but I had a good working relationship with the crew, and I enjoyed the fact that I wasn’t going to the same place every day. You do a job and knock it out, then go to another job versus going to the same building every day in the same atmosphere; it stuck with me.
Who has influenced your career the most and why? I met Billy Simmons, who is an inspector, years ago, and we became friends. He pushed me to attend NWFA schools, and now I’m a licensed inspector. Chris Zizza has helped me so many times over the years. And the staff at NWFA’s headquarters is like a big family. I can’t get that kind of love and appreciation from any other industry in the world.
What is your favorite wood floor project that you’ve participated in? I’ve been all over the country doing wood flooring, but one job stands out – a big lodge on top of a mountain in Oregon. My friend, my little brother, who is no longer with us, and I made that road trip. Daniel Saucedo (who I met in classes at NWFA) flew in from Houston, and the four of us knocked out the job perfectly. We were gone for 10 days total, and we went sightseeing along the way. It was a beautiful floor, but the overall job and the adventure attached to it can never be replaced.
What energizes you to stay in the wood flooring industry? My relationship with the people around me in the industry keeps me energized. Additionally, only a few of us in Louisiana are NWFA certified to do both install and sand and finishing. I think that is a huge problem, and my goal is to get more NWFA Certified Professionals into Louisiana.
What are you listening to right now? I listen to wood flooring podcasts, including NWFA Wood Talk, NWFA Real Answers, and On the Floor with Wayne and Rob. Also, Woody Overton’s Real Life Real Crime podcast.
Do you have a morning routine that sets you up for success? I have the luxury of putting my youngest son, who is nine, on the school bus every morning. I stand out there at the bus stop with him and his friends, and that starts my day off right. It’s those little moments that I try to capture because I know they’re going to grow up soon.
What keeps you busy outside of work? I’m into classic cars. I have a 1970 Chevy C10 that took six and a half years to build, and I recently got a 1969 Chevy Impala. Other than that, my wife and I are busy with the kids’ sports and dance, or I’m hunting and fishing. We are non-stop people.
You can listen to a technical-focused discussion between Willie Short and NWFA’s Brett Miller, as well as other hardwood flooring experts by visiting