ON THE CUTTING EDGE

BY ANNE SHULER TOOLE

When John DeZinna drove down to Charleston from Pennsylvania in the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo with a fellow framer and a truck filled with tools, he got a job within an hour of arriving. Hugo’s destruction created a frenzied demand for skilled labor. That’s when DeZinna noticed that flooring companies were few and far between. He admits that as a framer, he didn’t know the first thing about wood floors, but the need was apparent. When his acquaintances—a builder and a floor sander who had driven down from Boston with a van full of equipment—started a flooring company, DeZinna jumped on board.

DeZinna has run Palmetto Hardwood Floors since 1990. He began the old-fashioned way—by knocking on doors. Not one to accept anything less than the best, DeZinna was determined to provide the highest level of products and services to his customers, so he took classes and completed several programs to learn everything there was to know about the craft. The company enjoyed success up and down the South Carolina coast as the Lowcountry recovered and more people moved to the area.

Eight years ago, DeZinna acquired the company from the owner and decided that he liked the idea of a smaller company, one that let him get to know his clients and deliver a high-quality job. Today, his wife, Heidi, manages the office, and De- Zinna works with a team whose high level of experience shows through their work. One team member, Dave, has been with him since the beginning. “People are surprised when they find out we’ve been working together for a quarter century. Dave was in his 20s when he started. He’s built a reputation among subcontractors and homeowners as the best,” DeZinna says.

Palmetto Hardwood Floors specializes in hardwood flooring installation, resurfacing, repairs and specialty work for jobs of any size, whether it’s a home remodel, a new office or a staircase update. Its hardwoods and engineered floors are available in nearly all species of wood. “I have always tried to be on the cusp of innovation—to find the next product no one had,” DeZinna says. A big problem in flooring in Charleston, he explains, as an example, is that wide plank boards were rarely used here because they tend to cup or warp due to moisture in the air. He found a product engineered in Holland called the Hakwood Duoplank that solves the problem: 7-inch wide, three-quarter-inch-thick flooring comprised of a layer of wood in any species adhered to multiple layers of top-grade Baltic birch. “It’s a green product because it saves material, and it’s not susceptible to moisture. No one else in South Carolina had this material when we started using it,” he says. The stain and finish products used are also top of the line. Nontoxic and environmentally safe, they have no harmful odors, dry in as little as two hours and set in seven days.

Installing floors can be daunting for a client. Many decisions need to be made, including size, wood species, stain, layout and cost. Fortunately, the company’s showroom on Daniel Island helps clients get a visual overview of their options. “I know these are big and long-lasting decisions,” DeZinna says. “We walk clients through each step of the process so they can make the best choices for their property. It’s this level of client service and the quality of our work that set us apart.” He adds that Palmetto does not require money up front and only gets paid when the job is complete and done correctly.

DeZinna says nothing makes him happier than having his clients tell him how fantastic their homes look. “This is why we’ve stayed in business for so many years—we love to make great-looking floors, and we love to make our clients happy.”

Anne Shuler Toole is a freelance writer in Mount Pleasant and owner of Be Present Marketing.