Wood Talk: Mark Whatley

Mark Whatley is the operations manager for Amber Flooring in the Bay Area of California. He has nearly 30 years of experience and is an NWFA Certified Installation Professional, Certified Sand and Finish Professional, Certified Sales Advisor, and Certified Wood Flooring Inspector. Additionally, he has taught sessions at the NWFA Wood Flooring Expo and volunteered at NWFA schools.

Whatley recently was 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 am always volunteering in the community. I am the president of my children’s parent-teacher organization, an officer with our local Masonic Lodge, and an assistant rookie ball coach for Little League. I also go surfing almost every weekend.

How did you get started in the industry? Through high school wood shop. I’ve always had a passion for creating something in front of me. Later, I stumbled upon a flooring company and got a job there. I loved going to a different jobsite every single day, as well as the passion I felt for being able to take a project and make a beautiful house look even better. At first, I was a helper scraping corners, pushing brooms, and carrying lumber, then I started to install and edge, learned the big machine, and built more and more confidence along the way. I’ve learned from my failures, and I’m proud of the things that I’ve helped create over the years.

Who has influenced your career the most and why? My dad is not in the industry, but he always taught me to finish what I’ve started, to look for the deeper meaning to everything that I’m doing, and to always love what I do.

What energizes you to stay in the wood flooring industry? The new procedures and experimental concoctions we get to do with floors. It’s mixing species together, using reactive stains to make colors, and transforming homes. Also, the constant change of scenery as I can be in San Francisco one day and Lake Tahoe or San Diego the next. I can’t sit still for very long.

What is your favorite wood floor project that you’ve participated in? There have been thousands upon thousands of square feet, but I think it was my own house. I was able to design it, and my wife gave me free rein to do whatever I wanted. I took particular species of wood, put the colors together, and routed koi fish, hummingbirds, and trees into my floors. It’s almost like I have a charm bracelet for a floor in my house because each piece represents someone in my family or a certain time period of my home.

What are you reading right now? “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz.

Do you have a morning routine that sets you up for success? I have a gratitude book that was sent to me anonymously. Every morning, there are several questions in it to answer, which stem along the lines of what are you grateful for today, what are you trying to achieve today, how did today go for you, and what are you looking forward to? It’s very simple and quick, but before I leave my house that gets filled out and sets the tone for the day in gratitude.

What keeps you busy outside of work? I mentioned earlier that I’m a community service freak. Also, my wife and I have three children, ranging in age from 26 to six years old. My kids are my go-to, and I’m always trying to make sure there’s an experience happening with them in my free time.

You can listen to a technical-focused discussion between Mark Whatley and NWFA’s Brett Miller, as well as other hardwood flooring experts by visiting
hardwoodfloorsmag.com/nwfa-wood-talk-podcast.

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