Name: Tony Horsman

Age: 41

Occupation: Owner of Creative Hardwood Floors

Where we found him: Our living room

You performed magic on a ding on our hardwood floor. You can’t even tell it was there. How long have you been with Creative Hardwood? I started in March of 2000. My uncle Jim founded the company, and I started as an employee. I was fresh out of college, and my plan was to work there until I got a “real job.”

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What is your degree in? Radio broadcasting/sports broadcasting. I’d been interning with KQWB—working the 9-12 morning show—and when I graduated they offered me another unpaid internship. I declined due to no pay! Uncle Jim had started Creative Hardwood in that same timeframe, so I went to work for him. I thought my max was a year or a year and a half until I found that real job. And then, in 2005, I bought into the company. Over the years, I slowly started buying the other owners out. Amy, my cousin—Jim’s daughter—is also an owner. And Jim still works two days a week doing estimates. He’s semi-retired, but he’s not going anywhere!

You’re from Rochester? I’m from Chatfield. I was born and raised there, and that’s where we’re raising our family. My kids love the small-town atmosphere.

Tell me about your family? My wife, Kelly, and I went to high school together, but we never dated—never even really spoke—in high school. It was a class of 54 people, but we never dated until after we graduated. We’ve been married since 2002. We have two kids. Landon is 11 years old. He’s the laid-back, easygoing one. My daughter, Nora, is 6 going on 18, and she is an outspoken firecracker. She’s the one who’s going to give us a headache in the future!

What would I be surprised to learn about you? I won an all-expenses-paid trip to Germany from a hardwood floor manufacturer. It was a contest where you write a story, and they check out your background, and I was chosen. Then they take you over and show you elite style systems of sanding and finishing. It was pretty life changing, to be honest with you, in the way I renewed my passion for the industry. It was three years ago, and I met some people on that trip that I still talk to. People I’d only seen before on Instagram or because they’d won big awards from the National Flooring Association—people who are really highly regarded. It was kind of shocker when I was chosen and was spending time with them. The experience honestly changed the way I look at sanding a floor. I was raised in this industry. And, working with my uncle Jim, I always took it for granted that I knew what I was doing. But then I went overseas, and I thought: We need to step our game up.

That’s really cool when you have those moments of epiphany. When you know you’re in the right place. The same year, I was selected to National Wood Flooring Association’s “40 People Under 40.” Someone nominated me and I still don’t know who it was. It includes anyone from salespeople to people who work at mills to prefinishing companies to designers, so it was quite an honor.

Five things you love? My wife, Kelly. My kids. Wood floors. Fishing. And meeting people.

Are all the floors in your house wood? Everything but the basement. When we bought our house, the basement wasn’t finished. The previous homeowner was a realtor and had already purchased carpet. I’d said, “Don’t put down carpet! I’ll put the floors in!” But he’d already paid for it, so it went in.

People will want to know what the hardwood floor guy puts in his own house. Red oak on the main floor, stained and with herringbone. European white oak upstairs, hand scraped and wire brushed and with a hard wax oil.

Did you lay those floors yourself? Correct. Being in the trades, I try to tackle stuff myself. There’s a lot you can do on your own. But hardwood floors or roofing, I do not recommend doing on your own! I respect people who want to do it themselves. We’re always willing to lend a hand. We’ll sell them product and coach them through it. But if they’re not happy with it, we can fix it!

Scariest thing that’s happened to you? Probably becoming a business owner. There are long hours, a tremendous amount of stress, and I’ve lost friends from it. There’s a lot of time away from my family. That’s one thing that I’ve struggled with as a business owner. My family is first, but there are times when I’m working nights, weekends, and I miss family stuff—the kids’ events, homework, stuff like that. Especially with distance learning right now, my wife is having to do all of that stuff.

It’s a lot. Pre-COVID, I was in here each day a little before 7, getting guys going, doing anything from installing, sanding, bidding jobs, ordering jobs, helping guys out on jobs, pretty much anything. I used to have the showroom 8-5:30, but lately it’s nights and weekends, too. Business is booming. And I’m the guy who doesn’t want to ask an employee to stay late; I’d rather do it myself. I’ve had my kids help on weekends. My wife has done install. With COVID, supply is extremely low. Materials are backordered. In the last year, not one day has gone as planned. It’s become a joke that we schedule in pencil and not ink because it’s going to change!

What do you do in your off time? Fishing. My son, and my daughter now, too, and I are big into fishing. We go near Brainerd, but will travel to Walker, over to Grand Rapids. I’ve been to Lake of the Woods a couple times.

Biggest fish you’ve ever caught? 50-1/2-inch muskie. I caught it and released it and got a replica made.

Whoa. Where was that? A fisherman never tells.