As president of Floor & Decor, Lisa Laube (BBA ‘85) is responsible for over $2 billion of flooring and home goods sales. However, she is still using the same techniques that she used to sell pencils and paper to her professor back at the Terry College of Business.
“He would walk up and say, ‘Sell this to me,’” she remembered from a Personal Marketing course she took at UGA. “It might be a pencil. It might be a piece of paper, but you had to convince him to buy right there. I loved thinking on my feet. I loved figuring out how to convince somebody of something.”
That class convinced her to go into sales. For 35 years, this lifelong merchant has used the same principles to build retail brands and help grow a specialty flooring chain into an industry leader. Floor & Decor has grown from 28 locations to 133 in eight years.
Laube made a virtual visit to the Terry Women’s Initiative’s Coffee and Conversations series on Sept. 15. The talk allowed Laube to share her career path with students and offer them advice as they approach life after graduation.
“As you see your career unfolding, there are going to be lots of twists and turns,” Laube said. “Sometimes, those twists and turns are the ones that get you right on the path you need to be on. I look at careers as a series of building blocks. Sometimes you can look in the rear-view mirror, and you can see how you got there, although it may not have been clear at the time.”
It’s essential to have a goal in mind, but then to be open to the path your career takes, she said.
Her journey started at Rich’s, which at one time was Atlanta’s flagship department store chain. After graduation, she joined Rich’s executive training program. Within a few years, she was hired by Macy’s and found herself working in Manhattan.
Then came a string of specialty stores: Linens ‘n Things, Bath & Body Works and Party City. In 2012, she returned to Atlanta to join fellow Terry College of Business alumnus Vincent West at his up-and-coming specialty flooring retail warehouse, Floor & Decor. She became president in February 2020.
“We went public three and half years ago, and that is still to this day the most exciting thing I’ve ever done in my career. Taking a company public, going on the roadshow, telling our story and just seeing people be overwhelmed at what Vincent had created,” Laube said. “That was a highlight. One of the most fun things I’ve ever done was standing on the balcony [of the New York Stock Exchange] with Vincent, our CEO, Tom Taylor and the rest of the management team and ringing that bell.”
Laube has worked for both established retail giants like Macy’s and younger companies like Floor & Decor that are trying to grow their footprint.
“Neither way is right or wrong, but I definitely would say that the most fun I’ve had was Floor & Decor,” she said. “In part, that’s because this was a smaller company when I joined. It’s challenging that status quo, taking risks and asking to do more.”
Laube added the key to long-term career objectives is to keep an open mind about the journey to get there.
“It’s not a straight shot,” she said. “Ask yourself, ‘Is this a job that will be a positive building block for me? Is this a job I’m going to learn from?’ The first job won’t be your last job, but the question is if it will be something you’re happy to have on your resume and will you be happy going to work there everyday.”
The Coffee and Conversations series allows students to learn from successful Terry alumnae and discuss the opportunities and challenges they might face in their careers.