Bob Pireu was just 24 when he decided to pursue the dream of his own business. Twenty-five years later, Bob & Pete’s Floors at 4713 Tuscarawas Street W is one of the most iconic businesses in Stark County.
A Canton native and alumnus of St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Pireu graduated from Muskingum College, where he played basketball and earned a degree in business, with a secondary concentration in education.
After briefly working in financial planning, Pireu decided to return to school to complete his teaching certificate. He took a part-time job at Bath & Kitchen Discount Flooring and Carpet, which was started by Joe Kisha in Canton in 1949.
Kisha’s daughter ran the store, but because she had small children, Pireu said he assumed much of the operation, which specialized in selling vinyl flooring by the roll.
“It gave me a good foundation,” he said. “It was learning by having your feet to the fire.”
When the Kishas decided to sell the business, Pireu saw his chance. He enlisted a friend, Pete Ritchey, whom he knew from his previous job.
“He was looking to take a job in Columbus,” Pireu recalled. “We went in together.”
Ritchey left the business five years ago.
Because the business had such a long name, people simply referred to it as “Bob and Pete’s,” Pireu said.
Pireu said the first major change they made was to hire installers. They also added carpeting and tile to the inventory. They moved to the store’s current location in 2001.
Most importantly, they made service the cornerstone of the business. Though the business has grown to 11 employees and about eight installation crews, Pireu still inspects installations himself.
“Pete and I didn’t have a flooring background,” he said. “What we brought to the business was a common-sense approach, based on service. We measured the jobs ourselves. We went out afterwards to make sure the customers were happy. It’s amazing how people responded to that. It’s all about installing flooring the right way.”
The variety of flooring at Bob & Pete’s far outstrips offerings found at big-box stores. Today, measurements are now done by laser technology.
Bob & Pete’s customer base extends as far as Columbus. Many, Pireu said, are repeat customers, adding that the business offers flooring at all price points.
There’s transactional sales, and there’s relational sales,” he said. “We want those relational sales.”
Pireu said the current trend is toward less carpeting and more hard-surface flooring, including vinyl, tile, stone and wood.
“Some of it is design, and some of it is for health reasons,” he said. “It’s easier to maintain.”
The current challenge industry-wide, he added, is finding enough good installers and mechanics.
“There’s not a market where they’re growing,” he said. “The challenge for us down the road is, how do we install our product?”
Quality installation also is crucial, Pireu said, because, “Flooring is an investment.”
“Our tagline is ‘It’s more than a floor. It’s your home.’ ”
Pireu added that professional installation and the correct material also takes into account the climate, and how changes in season in Ohio affects homes.
“I can’t count the number of floors we’ve had to redo that someone’s friend or handyman installed,” he said.
Bob & Pete’s Floors also is involved in the community by raising money for various charities. In July, it devoted a portion of its sales to “Shop for the Paws” to benefit the Stark County Dog Pound. A fundraiser for breast cancer is scheduled for October.
“We believe in giving back to the community, and we try to use the store as a vehicle to do that,” he said.
The father of three daughters also volunteers as a basketball and softball coach with Perry Local Schools.
Pireu estimates that Bob & Pete’s has installed about 60,000 floors in the past 25 years.
“We have an awesome staff, people who have done a great job,” he said.
Pireu said he doesn’t know if his children will take up the business, but noted proudly that his wife, Marti, sings the company’s catchy radio jingle.
For more information, visit bobandpetesfloors.com.