DANVILLE − When asked how he originally got into the flooring industry, Paul Byer traces his introduction to an incidental interaction. “While in college, I sat next to a guy whose father owned a floor covering store,” he recalls. “He told me he was going to take over his dad’s business after he graduated, and he asked if I wanted to work for him. To make a long story short, I did.” Later, after he moved to California, Paul furthered his career by switching from carpet retail to the manufacturing sector, where he remained for the next two decades until an opportunity arose to purchase his own carpet supply store in 2001.
Today, as president of First Choice Abbey Carpet, Paul says his favorite thing about running his own business is the freedom to do right by his clients. “I love the fact that I don’t have to ask for permission to help my customers. I can make a decision that’s in a customer’s best interest without having to worry about policy or clearing it with a superior.”
Originally from Rochester, New York, Paul moved to the Bay Area in 1976 to take advantage of a more temperate atmosphere. “I was scraping ice off my windshield one day in April, and I asked myself, ‘Why am I doing this?’ I decided then and there that it was time for a change of scenery.” Nearly four decades later, Paul has no regrets about his decision. “I think the Bay Area is the most beautiful place in the United States, and there’s nowhere I’d rather be.”
Outside of work, Paul engages in a variety of activities that include swing dancing and cruising around on his motorcycle. “My wife, Janice, and I met while swing dancing, and that’s something we still enjoy today,” he says. Paul is also avidly involved in wing-shooting—he’s a member of a duck club in Colusa and a pheasant club in Rio Vista. In addition, he enjoys keeping up with his and Janice’s two grown children, Cera and Zachary.
In his professional career, Paul espouses the importance of maintaining high standards to ensure customer satisfaction. “My basic philosophy is, if it wouldn’t be OK with me, it’s not OK for my customers,” he explains. “If I wouldn’t accept something myself, I wouldn’t expect someone else to accept it either, which is why I always strive to provide the very best for my clients.”
When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, Paul says he’d embrace the simplicity of country living. “I’d like to move to a more rural environment where I could spend more time gardening, fishing and just enjoying the serenity of nature.”