WFB went through its archives and realized some of the amazing craftsmanship of past Floor of the Year winners belonged on the internet, and WFB Throwback was born. The following article originally appeared in the August/September 1993 issue of WFB (then called Hardwood Floors):

Merit Award, Commercial Category: Rivershores Hardwood Flooring Inc. | Grand Rapids, Mich.

Amway’s Richard de Vos sees this octagonal feature whenever he enters the office of his R.D.V. Corp. on the fifth floor of the Penn Plaza building in downtown Grand Rapids. It’s one of two identical features in the approximately 1,000-square-foot job, which also included special inlays in front of several other offices.

The two octagons are 15 feet in diameter and include the four-point star feature at the center of each medallion. The stars’ eight panels are made of alternating red and brown woods, Brazilian cherry and ipé (Brazilian walnut), respectively. Surrounding this is a field of cherry, and an outer area that intersperses 1-inch black bands of Brazilian ebony with Brazilian cherry and ipé, ending with a strip of ipé that separates the whole medallion from the Brazilian cherry plank that spans the office’s hallways.

As designed by Valerie Schmeder Design Consultants, the medallions sit under domes in the ceilings of the reception areas. Dave Veltkamp, a partner in Rivershores Building Products’ hardwood flooring arm, reports that each medallion took two skilled workers “one solid week” of work. He says the most time-consuming parts of the job were working with the extremely dense Brazilian ebony and simply the amount of cutting and shaving that was necessary to ensure a tight fit.

It was time-consuming, Veltkamp says, but fun for the members of his crew.

“The guys who did it loved it,” he says. “It beats doing just strip floors all the time. Everybody wanted to claim they worked on it.”

Veltkamp has been with the company for about four years, at the time when Rivershores Hardwood Flooring Co. became its own business.

“We used to just sell [flooring products] to builders, and they’d install the floors,” Veltkamp says. “For a long time they asked us, ‘Do you know anybody who installs or sands floors?’ Finally we just said, ‘This is nuts. Let’s start our own crews.’ We started with a couple of guys and a van, and now we’ve got five vans and a bunch of guys.”

Rivershores doesn’t do a great deal of commercial work, but Richard de Vos and Amway have been working hard to change that. It all started when Rivershores installed a floor in an old hotel downtown that is now the Amway Grand Plaza.

RELATED: WFB Throwback: Wood Floor Master Chuck Crispin’s Winning 1993 Floor

“This is a gorgeous floor, but there’s more going to come of this,” says Veltkamp. “There are a lot of heavy hitters in Grand Rapids that we’ve been trying to sell floors to, and now we’ve got something to show them. We can say, ‘Look at this. This is what we can do—now, what do you want done?’”


Flooring: International Hardwood Floors Inc.| Distributor: Rivershores Building Products Inc. | Nails/Nailing Machines: Stanley-Bostitch | Finish: Absolute Coatings Inc. | Abrasives: Norton Abrasives | Sanders: Hummel (Floorco), American Sanders | Buffers: American Sanders | Finish Applicators: Absolute Coatings Inc.