October 9/16, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 9
St. Georges, Quebec, Canada—Pierre Thabet, owner of Boa-Franc, makers of the Mirage prefinished hardwood flooring brand, was honored Sept. 14 with Floor Covering News’ sixth annual Al Wahnon Lifetime Achievement Award. The award was presented to Thabet by publisher and editorial director Steven Feldman, associate publisher Dustin Aaronson and sales associate Nadia Ramlakhan at Boa-Franc’s headquarters here.
Floor Covering News established the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010 to recognize and celebrate those people who have not only made significant contributions to the floor covering industry, but, more important, worked toward its betterment and made a difference over a sustained period of time. Simply stated, the award is intended to recognize service and leadership that is of a scope and duration to be considered a lifetime achievement.
Thabet exemplifies everything this publication seeks in a Lifetime Achievement Award winner. It was 1983 when Thabet purchased Boa-Franc, which at the time had three employees. Six months later, he watched as flames tore apart his establishment. It was Saturday, March 3, 1984, and it was 25 degrees below zero. He tried to save as much as possible but then the roof collapsed. By 9:45 p.m. that night, nothing was left but ashes.
Thabet returned to the location the next day at 4:30 a.m., gathered his insurance papers and put together a plan to rebuild. Seventeen days later, the reconstructing began. The company was back in production less than three months later.
Out of the ashes of that March 3 fire a flame was lit that still burns 33 years later. Thabet rebuilt and grew his company to become the fourth-largest hardwood flooring manufacturer in North America with nearly 400 employees.
Growing up in St. Georges, Thabet said many people from this area were instilled with the work ethic that success only comes from perseverance. One of his favorite sayings is: “I play not to play, I play to win. To be the best in everything is not possible, but you should be the best at what you commit to. One of our common values at Mirage is ‘GCS,’ which stands for good common sense. It is about having pride in what we do.”
Thabet founded Boa-Franc with the belief that quality would be the best weapon to differentiate itself from its competition. And he has hammered that “quality” theme for over 30 years. He believes quality extends beyond a product—it is the quality of service you provide; it’s the people you hire and the customers with which you align yourself.
“Pierre’s drive for progress and quality has established a culture that is dedicated to doing the best work in all things and at all times,” said Bruce Zwicker, the former CEO of J.J. Haines, the industry’s leading distributor. “The word ‘compromise’ is not in his vocabulary. His flair for flooring fashion and design means Mirage offers some of the most beautiful hardwood floors available.
“Consumers will tell you the product is virtually flawless,” he continued. “Mirage is the best flooring manufacturer in North America and probably the world.”
Mirage and Thabet are never satisfied with the status quo and have worked relentlessly for the past 33 years to produce quality products on a consistent basis without compromise. The company strives to be the best every day by applying rigorous and painstakingly small details that make all the difference in creating a high-quality product.
Ray Mancini Jr., president of Belknap White Group, the industry’s No. 3 distributor in sales, has carried the Mirage brand for seven years. When asked what attributes come to mind when he thinks of Mirage, he said, “Best quality, great culture, great partners and successful, excellent marketers. They are very good at communicating their mission and vision to their people.”
Thabet, in keeping with his unselfish manner, credits his employees for the company’s ongoing success. “This award belongs to every employee from the Boa-Franc team. They deserve all the credit because they’re the ones who have made all the difference these past 35 years. Of course, nobody can be the best in everything they do, but you should strive to be the best at what you’re really committed to.”
Impact outside flooring
But owning arguably the best hardwood flooring company in the world is only part of what makes Thabet deserving of a Lifetime Achievement Award. He has also worked for the betterment of his community. Through Boa-Franc, Thabet supports the regional hospital foundation, children—as it relates to both health and sports—the homeless and people with addictions. He believes he has been blessed to have a beautiful, healthy and loving family (four children and 11 grandchildren) and to live in a safe and prosperous community. With that, he recognizes there are those born without a supporting family, health and resources. Thabet believes it is our duty to give back to the community and help those less fortunate by giving them access to shelter, food, good hospitals and other services.
Thabet has also stepped up when someone at Boa-Franc needs assistance. There was a time when the wife of an employee had been enduring multiple symptoms of severe joint inflammation, extreme fatigue and even had to stop working. One day Thabet learned after numerous visits with her physician, the employee’s wife had not received a specific diagnosis. He proceeded to introduce the couple to top-of-the-line physicians and specialists. He followed up with the physician and employee’s wife to make sure she was receiving the appropriate care. She eventually was diagnosed with Lyme disease and is now getting proper treatment for her condition.
Another example: Back in the spring of 2015, Thabet became the honorary president of the annual fund raiser campaign for LEUCAN, which provides services and care to sick children dealing with cancer. Among the activities was to have your head shaved in a symbol of empathy toward the sick children battling cancer. Thabet convinced a group of 22 Boa-Franc employees, including himself, to be shaved against sponsorships that the company matched dollar for dollar. It ended up gathering $93,000 from employees and Boa-Franc, and totaling $238,000 from Pierre’s presidency.