(Sunday, April 18, 2010) Back in January of this year, Lonnie Hastings, who had just held the funeral for his mother after her death at the age of 90, was sitting in her living room discussing the economy and the effect it was having on his business, Seguin Floors, with his two sons, Kevin and Andy.
“It's no secret,” Lonnie said. “Everyone in this industry is struggling. The businesses that survive will be the ones that come up with creative ways to make it through this rough stretch while still giving their customers a great value.”
Lonnie brought up the possibility of moving his flooring showroom from its location at 108 E. Cedar St. in Seguin into what had been his mother's house off FM 1681 in the rural community of Nockenut roughly halfway between Seguin and Stockdale.
His sons responded enthusiastically.
“Why not?” Lonnie recalls Kevin asking. “You'd save a bunch in overhead and maybe you could pass some of that on to your customers.”
“Everybody seemed to go for the idea,” Lonnie said.
The entire family quickly pitched in to help with the relocation — creating signage, trimming trees and remodeling the house, slowly transforming its appearance from “the place where Grandma lived” into a place of business.
Moving Seguin Floors out to the location on FM 1681 didn't take the family into unfamiliar territory. His mother's house was situated on part of the land settled in 1854 by Lonnie's great-great-grandfather, Green Hastings.
About three years after arriving in the area, Green Hastings founded the town of Nockenut. According to family folklore, the town was named after the nocker tree. The trees don't seem to be as prevalent as they might have been back in the 1850s, but Lonnie says one of his cousins has a nocker tree still growing.
The Nockenut post office opened in 1858 in what was then Guadalupe County. A boundary change in 1869 resulted in a jurisdictional shift from Guadalupe County to Wilson County.
By 1885, Nockenut had a population of 75, according to the Handbook of Texas Online. Its postmaster was Lonnie's great-grandfather, Henry S. Hastings, and one of Henry's sons, A. G. Hastings, held the contract to bring out the mail from Seguin. Another of Henry's sons, Willie Hart Hastings, was Lonnie's grandfather.
In the 1880s and '90s, Nockenut had a general store operated by E. E. Hastings, a cotton gin, a grocer, a wagon-maker, a school and a church. Its post office continued to operate until 1906, however, by the mid-1930s the businesses were gone with only a scattering of residences remaining. Today, the Nockenut Cemetery on FM 1681 is the only obvious reminder of the little community.
“In a way, bringing my business back to Nockenut is kind of like coming full circle with my family history,” Lonnie said.
Seguin Floors was located for 10 years at 108 E. Cedar. Before that, the flooring showroom was on the 123 Bypass. The business now can be found at 2559 FM 1681 about 2.5 miles east of State Highway 123.
While he regards it as “too early to say it was a great idea” to move the business, Lonnie said the results look positive at this point.
“We're saving quite a bit on our overhead,” he said, noting there is no longer any rent to be paid and other expenses have been reduced. “We're saving at least half on the utility bill.”
The reaction from customers has been favorable. In a news release announcing the move, he passed along comments made by MaryAnn Parker, a longtime customer from Kingsbury. “Lonnie's location has really never mattered to me that much anyway because most times he would bring samples out to the house for us to choose from. If his new location allows him to lower his prices even more, all the better.”
The relocation can mean savings for those who buy flooring materials at the store on FM 1681. Since Wilson County has no county or city sales taxes, the rate is only 6.25 percent compared to the total rate of 8.25 percent in Seguin. But Lonnie stresses that the sales tax savings apply only to purchases made at the showroom; flooring sold and delivered elsewhere incurs the sales tax in effect at that location.
Besides the obvious tasks associated with relocating a business, Seguin Floors needed to improve communication. “We needed a way for people — customers old and new — to be able to find us. We needed a web site, and it helped that my youngest is a graphic designer,” Lonnie said.
Andy Hastings designed the Web site, SeguinFloors.com and it's worth a visit even for those who are not shopping for a new carpet. The business can also be reached at 830-996-3398.
Asked what his mother might have thought about her home being turned into a business, Lonnie said: “Oh, I think she would approve. This place has a family history that she would be glad to see continue.”
Longtime business owner moves to new location following the death of his mother
(Friday, April 23, 2010) It was a Saturday afternoon in late January. Lonnie Hastings had just buried his elderly mother (Allene Hastings, 90) and was sitting on the couch in her living room discussing with his two sons, Kevin and Andy, the economy and the effect it was having on his business, Seguin Floors. That afternoon, after little discussion, he decided to move his showroom from the town of Seguin into his mother's house in rural Nockenut, halfway between Seguin and Stockdale, making it that much closer to Nixon and Gonzales County.
“It's no secret,” said Lonnie. “Everyone in this industry is struggling. The businesses that survive will be the ones that come up with creative ways to make it through this rough stretch, while still giving their customers a great value.”
The two sons' response was enthusiastic. “Why not?” asked Kevin. “You'd save a bunch in overhead. Maybe pass some of that on to your customers.”
Immediately, the whole family pitched in — creating signage, trimming trees and remodeling the house, slowly transforming its appearance from “the place where Grandma lived” into a place of business.
Customers seem to be viewing the move as favorable, too.
“I think it's a great idea,” said MaryAnn Parker, a long-time customer from Kingsbury. “Lonnie's location has really never mattered to me that much anyway because most times he would bring samples out to the house for us to choose from. If his new location allows him to lower his prices even more, all the better.”
As a bonus, Lonnie realized that the move would put him in a lower tax district, enabling him to sell his products at an even lower total cost than he could in Seguin.
“I've been in Seguin for over 30 years,” said Lonnie. “We needed a way for people — customers old and new — to be able to find us. We needed a website, and it helped that my youngest is a graphic designer.”
“I got the idea for the website from my mother,” said Andy. “She was telling me how most of their business comes from the referrals of happy customers. It was then that I realized that testimonials would be a main feature of the website. We would design it to be like one big online referral.”
The new website also has a section featuring the decorating talents of Lonnie's wife, Bernice. “She's one of those kind of people who walks into a room and either wants to take a photo of it or redecorate it,” said Lonnie, laughing. “She's got a natural talent for that sort of thing, and I appreciate it. Some people get a bit intimidated when it comes time to pick out their floor. She's helped customers make confident decisions in making their final choices.”
When asked what his mother would have thought about her house becoming a business, Lonnie responded, “Oh, I think she would approve. This place has a family history that she would be glad to see continue.”
Seguin Floors' new location sits on the original site of the Hastings family homestead, settled by Lonnie's great, great grandfather, Green Hastings, in 1854. The Hastings family founded the small town of Nockenut on the Ecleto Creek, which runs across the street in front of the house. A rock watering trough sits just to the side in the front yard. “That thing's over a hundred years old,” said Lonnie. “I remember swimming in it as a child.
“Many years ago, way before my time, the family established a grist mill, post office, general store and one-room school just down the road from here. In a way, bringing my business back to Nockenut is kinda like coming full-circle with my family history.”
Seguin Floors has been providing quality residential and commercial flooring, delivered with personal service and a fair price, to Seguin and the surrounding area for over 30 years. They can be found on the web at: SeguinFloors.com.
(Wednesday, May 5, 2010) Seguin Floors has moved to rural Nockenut, near Stockdale. Owner Lonnie Hastings moved the business into his late mother's house, taking a creative approach to climbing expenses after more than 30 years in Seguin. He also has an online presence, at http//SeguinFloors.com.