Taken from the ‘Wood Floor Magazine’ website. To read the full article in its original posting visit here.
This year, WFB launched the Ultimate Wood Floor Guy & Gal Contest to shine a spotlight on a guy and gal in our industry who go above and beyond, and inspire other wood flooring pros by their dedication to the industry. The pros, both contractors, would have to be extraordinary in their work ethic, integrity and professionalism.
After examining a large and diverse range of submissions, we narrowed this year’s recipients down to our winners: Jessica Peterson and Anthony Magaro, and we are thrilled to introduce them to you and share their stories.
Both will take home ultimate prizes from our sponsors, Lägler North America, PoloPlaz and Graf Bros, including:
- A trip for each winner to Lägler’s headquarters in Germany for the next Lägler Fly + Sand training.
- A Traeger Pro Series 22 Pellet Grill & Smoker from PoloPlaz.
- A $300 discount per $1,000 spent on their first order of Graf Bros. Rift & Quartered Flooring.
Did you nominate yourself or someone else this year and not get chosen? Know that we got so many impressive entries (we aren’t just saying that, either)! Please try again! To enter next year’s contest, go to here.
And to meet the 2021 Ultimate Wood Floor Guy and Ultimate Wood Floor Gal, keep scrolling.
Ultimate Wood Floor Guy: Anthony F. Magaro
Company: Mr. Sandman Inc. | Camp Hill, Pa.
Years in the Industry: 37
Anthony Magaro, “Mr. Sandman” to his clients, has seen a lot of changes in the industry during his 37-year career. And true to his motto, “There’s always a better way,” he’s changed with it, adapting his business to changing times and technologies and expanding his knowledge with certifications. “He’s always searching, creating and inventing,” says Jacqueline Magaro, his wife and business partner, who nominated him by not only writing about all his attributes but singing us a song about him, too (you can see that video here). Anthony has made his own innovative contributions within the industry, developing a patented “wet-sand” finishing system for old or damaged floors that can’t be traditionally sanded. He has another patent in the works, as well.
“His bachelor’s degree from Penn State University and his work experience as a special investigator in the Bureau of Consumer Protection with the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General have provided him with the unique experience to run a very successful wood flooring company,” Jacqueline said. In her video submission, she showed off hundreds of positive feedback sheets from clients.
Over the years, Mr. Sandman has shifted from a large operation with up to six crews to a smaller, primarily family-run business, where all three of Anthony Magaro’s daughters have learned the trade.
“He is highly regarded, not only by this proud wife and a host of family and friends, but also by the very customers who have trusted him to come into their homes and businesses to restore their floors with his expertise in repairs, installations, sanding and refinishing and, of course, his revolutionary patented ‘wet-sand’ system,” Jacqueline added.
How did you get started in the hardwood flooring industry?
When I was about 14 years old I was trained on how to paint residential homes. We did a lot of apartment complexes. Later on I had a painting business as I was going through school for a degree in public policy. After college I got a job for the attorney general as a special investigator for the Bureau of Consumer Protection, but I was still in the painting business.
I worked with the attorney general for a couple years starting in 1985, and it didn’t work out because I was making way better ends meet in the painting business. Then by 1989 I got a shop in town and I was doing furniture stripping, wood restoration, painting, wallpaper, and had just started doing some wood floors. I basically was self-taught. And so by the early ’90s I got so busy with floor work that I turned over the painting business to a gentleman who I had trained and focused on just doing wood floors.
Do you recall the first hardwood floor you worked on?
It was a little room in a little town real close to Harrisburg. I remember it was for an elderly lady, and it was a second-floor with a really narrow staircase to get up. It was one of those bedrooms where the ceilings were at an angle and it was a very tough thing to do. I just remember using all the different things that are so out of date now. I was laying down finishes with 14-inch camel-hair brushes. When I ran that edger the first time, I got flashbacks of my high school years and my gym teacher, who was a marine. He was so strict; when you did anything wrong, he’d make you “duck walk” around the gym. And at the time I thought to myself, “This is the most ridiculous thing in the world, having to be almost like a duck.” And I realized, after my first time edging, “Oh my God, it’s the duck walk! I was trained for this!”
You’ve patented your own “wet-sand” finishing system. Can you describe how it works?
I perform a wet-sanding of an existing floor finish to remove the contaminants that would otherwise prevent the bonding and adhesion of polyurethane to any finish system. The contaminants that are removed include wax, carpet cleaning chemicals, food and paint splatters, and it has the ability to remediate urine stains and water stains. After the wet-sanding is complete, I do a color correction on any stubborn stains, then apply a sealer coat of polyurethane and finally a topcoat (or two if necessary) of polyurethane. It’s extremely beneficial in many regards, because in some instances, of course, you cannot sand a floor; it’s either too thin or it’s an engineered product or a prefinished product or it’s a bamboo product. This gives you an option. It also gives you the ability to preserve, protect and prolong what you have.
What’s your philosophy for running a business?
I am always where the rubber meets the road. So I’ve always been there rubbing the elbows of the guys who are doing the work with me. The biggest thing is, to drive a team, you have to be the leader. You have to have something there for them to follow. So you always want to set those goals, you always want to train them with new and better things all the time to give them the ammunition and the knowledge so that they can not only perform better, but make themselves more money. And once you get a following and you’re able to perfect your skill, it’s not a problem when you go into someone’s home and have them trust you with the integrity, the education and the experience to go in and work on their castle.
What’s your philosophy for dealing with clients?
The minute they bring up a concern, you must address it immediately. There is no, “Hey, I’ll take care of that whenever.” If a client points out something, the next day when they see the job, you’ve already taken care of the concern. When the client comes back and looks, they should say, “Wow, that guy took care of that already.” It’s a psychological hurdle that begins with the first phone call, but then it continues all the way to the final check that you receive at the end of the job. The minute that contact is established and they are scheduling an appointment, my phone number is given to them. You don’t necessarily have to be bigger to be better or to make more money. I can tell you this: The last 12 years have been the best years in business that I’ve had in 37 years. It’s all been family, between my son-in-law, my daughters and my wife.
Do you have a favorite kind of project to undertake?
The funnest ones to work on are the old ones. I’ve done work on floors from the 1790s and earlier. Usually you’re working with family members and it’s an heirloom kind of thing. It’s like working on an antique piece of furniture; you really take pride in being able to restore it to a condition that’s almost like new. That’s really cool. And then chestnut is another great one, because you know with the blight, there are not a lot of them. The ones that are here you want to treat with special care because you can’t really find the wood yet to replace them. It’s a gorgeous piece of woodwork.
What is your biggest wood flooring pet peeve?
I’ve come across this quite a bit lately because I guess a lot of people are doing a lot of their own work or hiring unqualified people: When you walk into a property and a house smells so bad of the finish, the VOC is off the scale and people are getting sick. In other words, my biggest pet peeve is coming to a job and there’s work that other people have done to the floor that has made my job even more difficult—and then trying to tell the homeowners why it’s going to cost so much more money.
What qualities do you need to make it as a hardwood flooring pro?
I think you have to be the type of individual who likes to take something that’s old and beat up and make it look beautiful. You’re looking for someone who doesn’t mind working with their hands, doesn’t mind going into people’s homes and taking the quality care that you need in order to be in someone’s home. And then, too, to be the type of person who can do everything in a way that is consistent, that is not rushed through to get to the paycheck. And then you’ll find that with that kind of work, you don’t have to advertise.
Anything else you’d like to add?
This is very important: My wife and I, in life, we walk side-by-side. We always have, we always will. So when you look at my company, and you see it’s Mr. Sandman, look at the words put together and you’ll see that it’s actually MrsAndMan. She’s the heartbeat of the company.
Watch Jacqueline Magaro’s video nomination of Anthony here: