The Carlisle Experience: Behind the Scenes with a Wide Plank Specialist

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“The extraordinary quality of Carlisle wide plank floors is matched only by that of the customer experience.”

In an age of instant gratification and digital communication, we are happy to announce that achieving our iconic status is due to the fact that we have remained true to our roots… in more ways than just crafting the greatest floors in the world.

We believe that you deserve to have someone there to guide you through the exciting process of designing the planks you’ll live your life on. We believe in taking time to talk about the details. To imagine what it will look like. To create custom samples from which to decide. We believe in giving you a shopping experience as memorable as the first time you discovered the beauty of a hand crafted Carlisle floor.

That’s why we wanted to sit down with one of our most experienced Wide Plank Specialists from our hometown showroom, Lynne Rafuse, to talk about her nearly 17-year tenure with Carlisle. Here Lynne shares her thoughts about why the Carlisle experience IS different from what you may be used to. She outlines what you can expect from us when you need those important (and not so important) questions answered…

Lynne Rafuse, wide plank specialist


Lynne Rafuse, Wide Plank Specialist

C: Good afternoon, Lynne! We have some insider information that you have a “secret to success” when it comes to providing outstanding customer service for people buying our floors. Can you tell us what that secret is?

L: Good afternoon, to you! Ha-ha, I think we all know that there are no secrets here; our floors practically sell themselves…

C: Yes, but not without you! So let’s start with your backstory: You are a veteran employee and work in the corporate headquarters showroom in Stoddard. What were you doing before, and what led you to Carlisle?

L: Believe it or not, I am fluent in sign-language and started my career as an interpreter for the deaf in our education system! Because we live in such a small town, we have a very small hearing impaired population and there came a time when I was no longer needed, so I moved on to recruiting ads for a local radio station. Before long, I met someone who was familiar with Carlisle and she encouraged me to talk to the Carlisle family about selling wood floors and the rest is history!

C: And almost 20 years later you are still here! That seems to happen a lot in our neck of the woods!

L: It does! We are passionate about our product and that makes it easy to enjoy coming to work every day. For me, I have such great satisfaction with what I do, that when I go home at night I have a peaceful feeling and that makes me happy. And I have the privilege of living on my own Carlisle floor, which is even better!

C: It would be hard to come home to anything else! You’re here in the small town of Stoddard. We imagine this showroom, since it’s nestled in the rural wooded hills of New Hampshire, doesn’t get the foot traffic our other showrooms see in the cities. Take us through your daily routine.

L: So true! Much of what I do is communication by email and phone. I’m one of four specialists here. We are at desks most of the day and wear many different hats. We each handle different parts of the country and are responsible for sales, developing relationships with designers, architects, and builders, and essentially being the point of contact for our clients from start to finish.

When I arrive every morning, the first thing I do is check my email and respond to them right away. Today, people hesitate to pick up the phone, so we may email back and forth a few times before we make a live connection.

Eastern White Pine in living space

C: You’re so personable, I’ll bet they are pleased when they realize you’re just a phone call away!

L: Yes, you know, everyone has different needs throughout the process. A lot of my online work is pulling together photo galleries, sample orders, and answering questions, but sometimes, people need to just talk things through with someone. I’m happy to be that person.

C: So true! Having someone so knowledgeable about their product must be reassuring compared to shopping in typical brick and mortar stores.

L: Oh, you wouldn’t believe the information some clients hear! What we do, how our floors are made, and what our end result is, is unheard of in the wood floor industry! I just recently had someone come to me thinking that if they purchased planks wider than 5” it would cup! I reminded them that our forefathers were living on planks almost 3’ wide 250 years ago without cupping, so there should be no reason why we can’t live on wide planks today. I explain to them the only reason this myth exists is because mass manufacturers of flooring don’t utilize the proper technology and don’t have access to the quality wood that can sustain planks over 5” wide. And then the light-bulb moment happened, it all made sense, and they were sold!

C: The trust factor is important. And so is dependability. How long would you say an average project takes from start to finish?

L: Well, I’d say from 6-8 months up to 2 years, depending on the job. The longest part is the design process. Sometimes we talk to people, answer questions, send samples — and then they go radio silent for a few months. You have to remember, most of our floors are being designed to fit into a much larger project, so these things take time. But once the order is placed, it takes our craftsmen about 6-8 weeks to make. Our timeline is very consistent and quiet honestly it amazes me on a regular basis!

C: And again, you’re in Stoddard. How often do clients come in to the showroom?

L: Oh, you’d be surprised! It’s not uncommon, and we highly encourage our shoppers to spend a morning or afternoon with us! We have the luxury of living with our planks, and to be honest, it’s hard not to take them for granted. That’s why I love introducing our clients to the team. Once I get back in the sample shop and tell our story in front of the actual timber and our craftsman, I am reminded of how grateful I am to sell a product that has so much integrity behind it.

C: What do most people discover during a tour?

L: That they would NEVER wish for a narrower plank! It happens every time! Once they stand in front of a giant wall of 6”, 8”, and 10” boards it puts the width factor in perspective! To see them up close is to discover how beautiful our wide plank floors are and to fall in love with them all over again. I always encourage my clients to put their money in to the quality of the wood and the width of their plank. You’ll never go wrong if you make that your priority.

Reclaimed Grandpas Hardwood Flooring

C: We’ve been talking to specialists from other showrooms, and we’re discovering that every city seems to be cultivating their own look. What are the trending looks here in New England?

L: Yes! It’s really a cool phenomenon to be following every year, and fun for us to see all the different styles being created here in Stoddard. But as for New England, we have a few definitive looks based on location.

We are specifying a lot of reclaimed floors right now for what I call our lodge look or lifestyle. We are seeing this in ski-areas, like Woodstock Vermont, and also as a top pick for second homes. Grandpa’s floor is one of my personal favorites — it’s one of the only reclaimed floors that is actually made from original, thick floor planks salvaged from an old textile mill. The rich look and history of this floor is bar-none to anything else on the market.

Then you have the coastal look, which is a standard for our ocean-front properties. I would recommend Weekend Cottage from our Casual Collection. This is an 8” White Oak floor with a brushed texture and a natural finish that brings all the relaxing feels of beach life inside, creating a relaxing haven.

And lastly, there is the on-par New England look. It’s all about tradition, and I would suggest our Original Grade Eastern White Pine which can be crafted in widths up to 19” wide! It has a nice, quiet personality and a beautiful subtle grain. An original grade specification uses the base and mid-portion of the tree, which reveals more knots, mineral streaking, and color variation. The combination of this character and warmth really resembles the floors of our ancestors, thus creating a historical New England feel.

Thanks, Lynne! And there you have it — everything you need to know about working with one of our Wide Plank Specialists: They are down-to-earth, love what they do, and will ensure an enjoyable, personalized experience as you design the iconic wide plank floor of your dreams! And they are just an email or a call away!

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Request our Catalog or speak to a Wide Plank Specialist for more information about Carlisle Wide Plank Floors.
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