The Military, Political Spirit, and Business Accumen Mark His Life
He came to Fort Lauderdale to retire. He was going to spend his days on a boat, and have a small business someone else could watch and operate for him.
After leaving San Francisco’s St. Francis Woods, he would come to South Florida, kick back, throw up his feet, and do some work on a fix-up house. He said he thought it “would be cool.”
Those were the plans of Earl Rynerson, who had spent the previous two decades in San Francisco as a high tech VP of a computer software company. But the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.
Earl Rynerson, oldest of five children, was raised on a farm in Kentucky. He knew something about hard work and tending to things on his own. When he started CLAD TILE & Stone only to find out soon afterwards that his managers were not managing it properly, he knew he would have to step back to pilot the ship. Not necessarily the retirement he planned for.
Thinking back last week of those start-up years for his then Hollywood-based company, Rynerson says “I got a lot of gray hairs in a short period of time.”
“Dealing with South Florida business ethics was a quite a shocker,” Rynerson confided. “I learned early on I had to be hands on.”
Earl, however is a man who attended the University of Kentucky ROTC program, and eventually graduated as a Second Lieutenant in the Air Force.
The military is a major factor in his life today. He spent six years in active duty as an Air Force flight officer and Navigator, and did two tours in Iraq. Leaving the Air Force as a Lieutenant Colonel, he joined Hewlett Packard in San Francisco, earned an MBA, and became actively involved in his community in northern San Francisco, working with the United Way and neighborhood associations.
It is that sense of neighborhood which Rynerson brings to CLAD Tile in Fort Lauderdale today. You enter a softly lit tile paradise, with incense candles burning and Rynerson’s dog, Milton, lying on a rug in his office. He may not be on a boat, but Earl is relaxed in jeans and moccasins.
Still, Fort Lauderdale has jaded Rynerson a tad. Life has taught him to be wary and hard nosed. A politically minded individual, he was a candidate for Fort Lauderdale mayor last year, running a campaign against waste, corruption, and a city manager he finds unacceptable.
The very lethargy and waste you find in government you will not find at CLAD Tile. His business is a neatly manicured supermarket, efficiently organized and spotlessly laid out. It is a Sunday buffet for tile lovers. You can cruise the aisles for all types of flooring, from eco friendly products to all types of porcelain tile and stone. The options include granite, marble and many other unique types of tile, from mosaics, to glass, metal, pool and even leather.
The selection of eco friendly materials at CLAD are particularly impressive. You can choose from recycled exotic woods acquired from the Far East, or reclaimed coconut shell mosaics. There are resin based tiles produced from recycled glass and aluminum, and even sorgum stalks, meticulously laid out in designer patterns and then flattened by a machine press. You can almost smell the gums.
Not quite like flying missions as he did in “Operation Desert Storm”, but rewarding nevertheless, Rynerson confesses. “You know, customers come in and they are excited about planning their home for a new design, a modern look, and the finished product is the reward,” he says.
Today, with the economy slower, there are not as many new homes to floor, but there are older homes to get creative with. Says Rynerson, “Our projects may be smaller today, but it is still just as important to the consumer. They can retile a bathroom, redesign a kitchen, and give new life to a piece of the home they are going to keep.”
But, he warns, “understand when you rip out tile, and you raise concrete dust, your life can be agony. Garage and warehouse as much as you can before you start. And pretend you are camping for a while. It can be a root canal for your home, but you will be grateful with the finished product.”
A trip to the URL www.cladtile.com and its virtual gallery will give you a tour of the fruits of remodeling. From the new terazzos to the stone flooring, the diversity and designs are unlimited and mind boggling.
In fact, says Rynerson, “You are better off making a little list of what you want before you come in; highlight what you want, find a starting point, and decide your aesthetics in advance.” He is right. While he can offer you many options, if you just come in and start walking around, you are like a kid in a candy store. You will just get confused by all the choices.
Recovering from his entry into city politics last year, there may be yet in his future another building to floor and tile, at City Hall.
Rynerson, who counts his military experience and business credentials as paramount in his life, also underscores political activism as a motivator. He has started a web site that educates the reader about what is occurring in Fort Lauderdale politics and calls attention to the continuing waste of taxpayer money. The URL is www.abetterftlauderdale.com.
However, if you are looking for tumbled stone or slate mosaics for a backsplash or new living room, high grade granite or laminate wood flooring, then a trip to CLAD Tile’s emporium of delight should be your next mission. You get a dose of Earl’s politics, a cup of Earl grey tea, and a new dining room floor, courtesy of CLAD Tile and Stone.