Mark Plansky, owner of Heritage Carpet, a Poughkeepsie flooring store, was headed for a career in research when he emerged from Ramapo College of New Jersey with a Bachelor of Science degree in biology in 1976.
Times were tough in that era, the new graduate discovered, with long gas lines and a sluggish economy. Research jobs were scarce. “So, I decided to get a year’s business experience,” he said, and took a job with a Bronx carpeting firm.
The experience led him to open Heritage Carpet in l984, which has since remained at the same location on Route 9 opposite the Poughkeepsie Galleria.
Plansky is grateful for his repeat customers and referrals, as he’s again in a recession era, fighting what he calls “the perfect storm.” Small retail businesses are facing a trio of problems, he pointed out: the present economy, big-box stores and the Internet.
People are still decorating, but on a smaller and more selective scale, he noted. “Young couples appreciate the personal attention they receive from the Heritage employees, some there since the start of the business and others for nearly a decade,” he said.
Plansky has an enthusiastic partner in his wife, Elaine. “We have been married for 40 wonderful years,” he said. She handles the operation’s advertising and business end, while he meets with representatives of carpet companies and importers and does the buying.
The company’s sphere of operations stretches from Manhattan to Albany and into Connecticut. “It’s about making a house a home,” Plansky said.
“The floor industry has changed drastically over the past three decades,” he continued. “Wall-to-wall carpeting was the fashion statement of the eighties and early nineties,” and Plansky said it’s making a comeback for bedrooms because it is more sanitary and warmer than the wood or laminate preferences of a decade ago.
Heritage Carpet boasts worldwide imports. “The old-world hand weaving and hand knotting have become more industrialized, especially in India and China,” he said. “The cottage industries are things of the past.”
Heritage staff members find themselves counseling customers whose discretionary funds are more limited than before. “Instead of coming in to fix up four bedrooms at one time, customers will fix up one and then return when they can afford to fix up another,” Plansky said.
Challenging Careers focuses on the exciting and unusual business lives of Hudson Valley residents. Comments or suggestions may be emailed to Catherine Portman-Laux at firstname.lastname@example.org.