Community Leaders - Romeo's Flooring & Stone
Most of us typically encounter criminologists on TV shows like NCIS, CSI and L&O. Julieta Ranger studied criminology at University and was at one point all set to make it her career. Instead she and her husband Kelly run Romeo's Flooring and Stone, situated at the corner of Centennial Drive and Fraser Avenue? What caused the change? Well, as any good criminologist would know, she found her answers in her DNA. "I enjoyed my time at University," she says, "but I guess this business has been part of my whole life."
Indeed it has. Julieta and her family were refugees from El Salvador, working their way through Guatemala, Mexico and the United States, until finally they made it to Canada. They settled in Edmonton where Julieta's Dad, a stonemason by trade, started the company. Romeo Miranda began to make trips north up 63, working all week and only going home for the weekends. Romeo moved his wife up to Fort McMurray while Julieta and her sister attended University. As the business grew, Julieta moved up to help, and never looked back.
Julieta remembers going to work with her Dad from an early age, cutting tiles for him and learning the business on her knees right next to him. Now the next generation is in the shop and running the business. Her husband Kelly is the general manager while Julieta manages the showroom.
Julieta is responsible for guiding customers through decisions that make sense within their budget requirements. "We want people to make the best choice they can. Typically, when you put in a new floor, it's there for a long time. You have to be happy with what you're laying down." New techniques and products mean that deciding what you want for your house is an adventure in flooring. Typically the first decision is what type of floor: any one among tile, natural stone, wood, carpet or laminate have their place in the home, and it is Julieta's job to help the customers transform their house from the bottom up. "We work to your budget, and we'll help you make your house more beautiful. We don't do ugly."
In addition to flooring they also do backsplashes, granite and quartz surfaces, heated floors and shower systems. And now you don't have to go to them, they'll come to you. "We are launching our mobile showroom this spring," says Julieta. "Basically, we bring our showroom to you at your convenience, with personalized design advice in your home."
Whether you wish to do it yourself or have it done by Romeo's expert floor layers, Julieta and Kelly are there to help. There‘s a third service they offer as well, perhaps the most important one. They will rescue you. "If you start out doing your tiling yourself and get stuck, we will come in and help you finish it." This is the service that likely has saved a few marriages.
Unlike Julieta's exotic background, husband Kelly is Alberta born and bred – "He married me for my Salvadoran passport," she says, laughing. They've been together since high school and it is a true partnership at home and work. Kelly is very hands on and does the customer service at the installation end of the business, while Julieta works in the store. She loves her job, and all thoughts of criminology departed many years ago. "The best part of my job is helping turn ordinary tired spaces into little pieces of art; a space that shows off a part of you."
The options in the shop and on their website seem almost limitless, which is why the sales staff are such an important part of the process. They help you decide – based on use, style and budget – what is best for you. And then after the flooring, they can talk bathrooms, kitchens, backsplashes, and even whether or not you want a heated floor. By way of example there are over twenty different options in blinds and shutters alone. There are so many choices it is fair to say that they certainly don't do ugly, but they do a lot of pretty stuff that keeps the customers happy.
After almost 20 years in business in Fort McMurray, Romeo's Flooring and Stone are a vital part of the community. Their work can be seen in many of the builders' show houses (information on their website), including the latest Oil Barons' dream home. In addition they try to be involved in the community and regularly sponsor drives for the Food Bank. And watch out for the next ugly selfie contest. Take a picture of your ugly old floor or bathroom and you could win $500 towards your new one.
If you're thinking of upgrading your floor or walls, you really need to give Romeo's a call. As Julieta says, "We bring beauty to the surface".
Photography by Nicole Cormier