WALLINGFORD — Colonial Flooring America celebrated its 50th anniversary last week with a networking event featuring people from local businesses, nonprofit organizations and local government at its 1116 N. Colony Road showroom.
The business used to be called The Colonial Carpet Shop, Inc. and was owned by Martha and Jose Mendoza. After 25 years in business, the Mendozas were getting ready to retire and let someone else handle the technological changes of the early 2000s. Nevertheless, the couple had not listed the business for sale and were waiting for the right person.
The couple met with Peter Escobar. He had moved to Meriden in the 1980s from his native Bogotá, Colombia, and knew the Mendozas since he had been a customer of their business for several years.
At that time, Escobar had spent nearly two decades travelling all over Latin America selling industrial equipment. After 9/11, his employer made some changes and Escobar found himself wanting to change his career and go into business for himself. He approached the Mendozas with the idea to buy their business and “take it to the next level.”
“What they didn’t know is that I had no experience in flooring. I told them my experience was running a Hoover over the carpet,” Escobar joked. He added, “Thank you so much for trusting me with your business.”
Escobar bought the business from the Mendozas in 2002 and has seen it grow alongside Sales Associate Jeannette Cardona, whom Escobar called “his right hand.” He also thanked his wife, Barbara, for her support and patience as the business changed names a couple of times, expanded its offerings and moved from Meriden to its current Wallingford location in 2009.
“It was very difficult to make a decision about moving, but I found this location, thank God, and it has been wonderful as well,” he said.
In addition to samples of tiles, carpets, wood floors and panels, the showroom of Colonial Flooring showcases a “Wall of Fame” dedicated to the awards and recognitions Escobar has received over the years — including a 2006 Midstate Chamber Small Business Leadership Award and 11 consecutive Reader’s Choice Awards from the Record-Journal for “Best Flooring Company.”
Midstate Chamber of Commerce President Rosanne Ford explained that Escobar was a founding member of Hispanic Outreach Leaders in Action and presented the business with a shiny, gold clock to celebrate their golden anniversary.
As an addition to the Wall of Fame, state Rep. Craig Fishbein, R-Wallingford, and state Rep. Hilda Santiago, D-Meriden, both read official citations from the General Assembly congratulating Colonial Flooring on its 50th anniversary and thanking Escobar for the work he does in the Meriden and Wallingford business communities.
Wallingford Mayor William Dickinson Jr. also read a proclamation thanking Escobar for his business and his community involvement through youth mentorship and the board of the Spanish Community of Wallingford.
“It takes a lot to run a business,” Dickinson said as he presented an official proclamation. “Talent, intelligence, planning, courage and an enterprising spirit. But add to that a very caring spirit with you, Mr. Escobar.”
In addition to receiving citations, Escobar also gave out door prizes and a number of recognitions to organizations who have made an impact in their community, including Master’s Manna, SCOW, the Wallingford Symphony Orchestra, the Midstate Chamber of Commerce, Joe Mirra, Mother Shaun Vergauwen and the United Way of Meriden and Wallingford.
“From Colombiana to Colombiano, I am incredibly proud of you [Peter] and incredibly grateful for everything you are and you represent to our community and to all of us as a businessperson and a community member,” said María Campos-Harlow, executive director of the United Way of Meriden and Wallingford, after she received her award. “Thank you for everything you do.”
Latino Communities Reporter Lau Guzmán is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms. Support RFA reporters at the Record-Journal through a donation at https://bit.ly/3Pdb0re. To learn more about RFA, visit www.reportforamerica.org.