Joe LeFlore, vice president, South Florida Millwork
Brian Tietz Joe LeFlore, vice president, South Florida Millwork

It took Joe LeFlore only five years to move from salesman to vice president at South Florida Millwork, a custom staircase manufacturer and door and window supplier in Naples, Fla. As a teenager, he worked for Champion Windows on the assembly line, regularly outpacing the daily quota. It would not be the only place where he would disturb the status quo.

Fighting Attitudes I lived in a lot of diverse communities in Colorado, but in the Fort Myers and Naples area, it’s a good old boys mentality 100%. I’ve had to deal with “Who is this young black kid?” and “How dare he quote this $100,000 job?” and “How dare he get it?”. I’ve taken some pretty messed-up phone calls.

Parental Advice I talked to my dad about it, and he said, ‘Son, it’s easy to fly like an eagle among a bunch of turkeys.’ When I first came here, I was younger and I knew less than I do now. Now, I don’t have to deal with that. Most people know who I am.

In the Beginning I came to Fort Myers after I graduated to work for my dad’s company, but then decided to work for a window company instead. I went from working the back end, to installed, to sales. The first day I go out on sales calls, I’m calling every number I see on every sign. I sold a $100,000 window package to a guy whose name I found on a sign. I continued to sell and do better and better, and hooked up with Horner [Horner South Florida Millwork, which became South Florida Millwork in 2010].

Looking to the Future The stair business created a base for us to get into windows and doors. I just enhanced the window and door part. We have already begun our transition into commercial work. We have brought in a company called ES Windows, out of Colombia. The Dunes is a massive resort that we will be doing. Our next five years will be more commercial using this product, and in the next 10 years we see us doing more of the same.