Redefining Shipshape: Navy Officer’s Impactful Career in the Flooring Business

Published On: January 2nd, 2024Categories: Featured, Press Releases

This article was originally published in Franchising Magazine USA

Mark McMurray always knew he wanted to try many things, but after a career in the military and as a leadership consultant, McMurray has been able to chart his own course as a business owner with Floor Coverings International.

Roots in the Military

Born on an Air Force military base, Mark McMurray grew up watching his father’s successful military career. Before he graduated from high school, McMurray had joined the Marines as a private first class. He had set his sights on a bright future in the armed forces, and he wanted to maximize his military experience. McMurray was selected to attend the U.S. Naval Academy, from which he graduated and went on to serve as a Surface Warfare Officer on a Destroyer in Japan.  It was there that he had his first experiences with program management and engineering operations.

For a few years, McMurray honed his leadership skills on the decks of U.S. Navy vessels overseas. In 1998, he transitioned out of the military, ready for his next adventure. McMurray was hired by General Electric where he took on leadership roles in operations management, creating a foundation for his career outside of the military. Over the course of the next two decades, McMurray went on to earn his Master of Science in Operations Management and a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt Certification.

McMurray prioritized educating himself as a leader, brushing up on the latest leadership trends and case studies. Working as a leadership consultant across several industries, McMurray learned the ins and outs of what helped businesses operate smoothly. He was working with FirstService Brands when he met the leadership team of Floor Coverings International— a franchise business that would go on to play an integral role in his future. Having weighed the possibility of small business ownership for quite some time, McMurray realized he had reached a crossroads in his professional career: continue with consulting or take a leap into entrepreneurship.

Steps Towards Franchising

He and his wife Jenny had thought about starting a business together for years, but they decided they would only move forward with a business opportunity that met the specific criteria that they laid out. Were they to open a franchise together, the McMurrays agreed that it would have to be in an industry they both had an interest in, the franchisor’s values were aligned with their own, the model would have to be scalable, and the business’ finances had to match with their personal goals.

The McMurrays saw franchise ownership as a life investment, not an experiment— profitability was a must. The security of a steady paycheck made the shift to business ownership a daunting transition, but the promise of being able to grow a business on their own terms drew the McMurrays in.

Because of his work at FirstService Brands, McMurray knew members of the Floor Coverings International leadership team, so when he made the phone call to further explore franchise ownership, he felt embraced by the company before even investing. Once McMurray started learning more about Floor Coverings International, he felt franchise ownership became a question of ‘how’ not ‘if’. The franchise opportunity aligned with the McMurray’s interests, financial objectives, and provided a structure that they believed would set them up for success. In February 2017, the McMurrays launched Floor Coverings International North Tampa, with high hopes for the future.

A Foundation in Flooring

Now, approaching seven years of operating his Floor Coverings International business, McMurray looks back on his decision to go into franchising with gratitude. He concedes that running a business is hard but finds franchise ownership to be rewarding in ways that his corporate and consulting lifestyles simply could not deliver. While his decades of experience in consulting informed his leadership style, McMurray personally found that the desire to make his business succeed is a daily motivator.  McMurray believes that you need to be prepared to do whatever it takes to steer your team in the right direction, and whatever experiences you have in the past that can help. In fact, it is essential for any franchisee to find a way to lean on their past experiences when taking on the role of an owner.

McMurray’s approach to leadership for every mission he was a part of in the military was based on what he called a dual-mentality mindset.  This means keeping the overall mission in mind while also using a “get-it-done” mindset for the tasks immediately at hand. This dual-mentality approach helps McMurray get essential jobs done while keeping in mind the ‘why’ that drives him forward. Having a short-term outlook is essential to completing tasks in a timely manner, and keeping the long-term vision in mind keeps you motivated for the work. Business ownership requires a person to attend to all of these elements, all the time.

When he opened Floor Coverings International in Tampa, McMurray relied on the discipline and detail-orientation instilled in him through the military needed to oversee day-to-day operations. McMurray realized the success of his Floor Coverings International depends on him showing up, balancing the finances, and keeping his team on the right track. McMurray recognizes the importance of learning to pick yourself up after failure, both for his employees and in his own entrepreneurial journey. McMurray found that some things like learning how to market his business and retain employees in sales positions took some time to master, but as he had found in the military, experience was the best teacher.

Now with over a half a decade’s experience leading Floor Coverings International in Tampa, he has cultivated a team that inspires one another to work hard and deliver top-notch results, both within his immediate franchise and across his network of fellow franchise owners. McMurray appreciates the opportunity to help his employees’ professional development while helping strengthen his business at the same time. His team has played an integral role in the success Floor Coverings International has seen in the Tampa area. McMurray and his wife commit to working with their employees and customers every day to deliver the top-shelf customer service that Floor Coverings International has developed a reputation for producing.  As McMurray likes to remind his staff, “Remember, we were made to serve others”.