Matt Teller grounds his passion in 45 years of Parker Lumber flooring business

Published 12:51 am Saturday, April 3, 2021

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Matt Teller is proof of how a seemingly small decision can have a large impact.

He began working for Parker Lumber in June of 1976 as the manager of the paint department.

“A guy came in, and he and his wife brought a carpet sample to pick some paint color,” Teller said. “I was kind of enamored with the whole carpet idea. I flipped the carpet sample on the back and it had a 1-800 number. I called the company and they ended up being the first vendor we had. I really felt like I could move along with the floor covering idea.”

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From there, Teller spent his lunch hours teaching himself how to measure and developed a carved-out section of the store that he has run for 45 years.

“It is interesting, having the love affair I have had with a soft piece of goods,” he said. “It is really more waiting on people and understanding what their needs are and loving the whole thing of fixing up the houses. The crazy thing is that we feel like we are trying to make their environment better for them and make them enjoy their homes more.”

Matt Teller, right, looks over some floor plans at Parker Lumber in Port Arthur. (Chris Moore/The News)

Teller said he didn’t receive much pushback from corporate about expanding to flooring, but said there were suppliers that did not want to be associated with a lumber store.

“In the early years, I called Armstrong and tried to get them to call on us,” he said. “At the time, they had a carpet division. The funny thing is they sent a beautiful letter saying they appreciated my interest, but said they did not want their carpet line associated with a lumber store. The funny thing now is that 90 percent of carpet is sold at big-box stores. Since then, they are out of business and we continue to thrive.”

Teller said he goes out to every job to make sure the quality is on par with his high standards.

“I pay a lot of attention to detail in the work — not just our tile people put out, but also our carpet people and laminate people,” he said. “They know I am fanatic about quality and service, so they make sure we do everything by the book and by the end of the day, the customer is pleased. That is what keeps us going.”

Being in the business 40 years provides one with a unique experience to serve families across generations.

“A few days back, a woman came into the store,” Teller said. “Her great grandmother bought carpet from me and so did her grandmother and her mother. So it is interesting to be on fourth-generation customers in pretty much the same place right here on Gulfway Drive.”

On any given day, Teller can be found in the back of the Port Arthur Parker Lumber store in the flooring department.

“I’ll be sitting in the back and everyone knows that Matt runs the flooring department,” he said. “Even though I have served in a lot of capacities, like on the board of directors and stuff, my love has always been back there.”

Teller said the relationships and ability to create are what drive him to keep going.

“There is a lot of pleasure in seeing the finished product,” he said. “For me, it is like creating music or painting a picture. It is the end result that you get to see. The beautiful thing about it is I get to wake up every morning and wonder what I will get to do today. I feel fortunate that I am able to say that. I pinch myself, because this is just the other place I go to for 45 years. I don’t go to work. It is just the other place I go to.”