Manager Rob Hafitz, managing partner Rich Linnell, administrative assistant Dawn Lippincott, warehouse manager Angel Rodriguez and sales associates Ray Davidson and Hannah Clark-Hafitz stand in the showroom of Rich’s Carpet One Floor and Home, located in Block Plaza at 825 Route 33. (Staff photo by Rob Anthes.)

Rich Linnell, owner of Rich’s Carpet One Floor and Home, has 46 years of experience in the flooring industry—all of it on Route 33 in Hamilton.

Upon graduating from college in 1971, and failing to enter the military as a pilot, Linnell joined his uncle Dick Helbig and cousin Rick Helbig at Remnant King.

“We are all Richards,” Linnell said. “I was the vice president of the company, responsible for all the buying and advertising.”

After the family business sold in 1996, he opened up East Windsor Carpet Home and Floor Covering in the Mercerville Shopping Center. Then, the owners of East Windsor Flooring Company (brothers Michael, Bruce, and Marvin Block) secured the property that is now Block Plaza. The store moved there in February 2008.

In November 2012, Linnell bought the Route 33 store from the Block brothers and renamed it Rich’s Carpet One Floor and Home.

“I never left Hamilton Township or Route 33,” Linnell said. “I have a good following. A lot of people know me.”

Rich’s Carpet One Floor and Home is part of a cooperative called Carpet Cooperative of America Global. It creates huge benefit in buying power, and allows stores like Rich’s Carpet One to compete with the big box stores. There are 1,200 Carpet One stores nationally, with expansion into Canada and England.

Linnell is proud to be a top five donor in Carpet One’s Building for America’s Bravest program with the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, named for an off-duty firefighter who died on September 11th. The Foundation “builds smart homes for our most catastrophically injured service members returning home. Each home is custom designed to address the unique needs of each individual.”

Carpet One Floor and Home teamed up with Mohawk, a leading carpet manufacturer, to provide the carpeting. Other corporations have donated other building supplies.

“When a specially adapted smart home gets built,” Linnell said, “it still costs between $500,000 to $700,000 [even after donated materials]. Nineteen smart homes were built last year all over the country.”

Linnell donates all the carpeting and installation for homes built within a 25-mile radius of his store.

This charity struck a chord with Linnell. He graduated from Emerson High School in 1967, during the height of the Vietnam War. When he turned 18 he “ran down to the draft board” and asked for a 2-S deferment to go to college. He told the board he planned for a career in the military, and signed up for a four-year program with Southeastern University in Oklahoma, which included one year of flight school, and three years of classroom learning. Linnell proudly adds, “I graded with honors—a 3.8 average.”

President Jimmy Carter had other ideas. He ordered the release of troops from Vietnam, thus reducing the need for military pilots. When Linnell went to officially join the military, he was told his astigmatism and vertigo would keep him from flying, but would not have had the country still been at war. His uncle invited him to move to Mercer County and join the family flooring business.

Linnell is still a licensed pilot and proudly carries his pilot’s license card with him everywhere.

Linnell is also passionate about his customers.

“We are customer driven,” Linnell said. “Our tagline is ‘Experience the unexpected at Rich’s Carpet One in Customer Service.’ I go out as the owner and measure the floor myself. You can call me directly.”

Carpet One Floor and Home also offers the Beautiful Guarantee, which is a promise “you’ll love the way your new floor looks or we’ll replace it free,” Linnell said. Call the store for details.

In addition to being the owner, Linnell is one of four partners. The other partners are John Maccabe, Donna Calu and Sharon Mattaliano. Rob Hafitz is the manager, and the other person who comes out to measure floors. They have three professional staff associates: Ray Davidson, Donna Griffiths and Hannah Clarke Hafitz, Rob Hafitz’s daughter-in-law. Angel Rodriguez is their warehouse manager.

Rich’s Carpet One Floor and Home mostly installs carpeting, laminates, tiles and vinyl floorings within a 25-mile radius of their store. Customers can see products at the 7,500-square-foot showroom or online at Flooring can also be ordered online.

“If it is in stock, it can be installed the next day,” Linnell said. “I’m going to do everything I can.”

Rich’s Carpet One Floor and Home is located at 825 Route 33 in Block Plaza, Mercerville. Phone: (609) 890-6111. Fax: (609) 908-6649.