June 1, 2020
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Forty years ago he took a chance

  • Photo by Irene Hilsendager

By: Irene Hilsendager
September 14, 2018

Bob Sevenau (originally spelled Seveneaux) was born in San Francisco, attended Catholic schools, but disliked the avenue fog immensely and decided to head north to Santa Rosa. He was able to purchase a house where the crime rate and homelessness were zero. While living in Santa Rosa he started a juice company. Ninety-nine percent of the time he just made carrot juice and if something green was ordered it had to be by special request, in those days no one was in competition making carrot juice but he endured it for seven years and eventually sold the house and business and ended up in a tiny over- the -garage apartment. No job seemed to be on the horizon and he was getting desperate for money. Probably his nightly dinners seemed glamorous to some but many an evening popcaorn without butter or a treat was ramen noodles for his meal. Bob couldn’t pay rent on the apartment and asked his landlord if there were any jobs available. When he moved to Rohnert Park he recalls that the town was called Rodent Park.

His landlord was a master rug installer. Going out to several jobs with the fellow, Bob thought he could imagine himself being an installer so going to the Exchange Bank, at that time, situated in a trailer, he swallowed his pride and took a chance. With the help of the bank manager and a small business loan, he asked if he could borrow enough money that he could fly to Los Angeles and buy ten rolls of carpet, this deal was all done on a handshake.

After Bob had given his two weeks’ notice, Sevenau opened a small store on Executive Dr. with his mantra being “wake up the next morning to do what you did yesterday and then managed to open a little location on Executive Dr. and was there for five years. Business was doing quite well so he decided to expand and with the help of a real estate agent, bargained for the building on Commerce Blvd. The building was one of a few storefronts on Commerce Blvd. when no fast food or chains were on the boulevard.

So forty years ago Bob took the chance to start his carpet and hardwood store and even said it was so long ago that carpet was still called rugs. That is how the Rugworks name came about.

Sevenau said long hours and persistence is what it takes to make a family business and never give up; ever. He felt he was the luckiest man, being surrounded by great people doing the type of work he used to do; only a little better. 

The Rugworks store front with a 4,000 square foot warehouse attached to it has been on Commerce Blvd.  long enough that 40 years later he says it is a good feeling to know the building is paid off and with that he can really afford to offer better prices. Rugworks has a long line of very happy customers who keep coming back that it has become generational customers. One of his best achievements is when he bought the building and he could think of his family and someday retirement. Although Bob has never really retired as he appears in the Commerce store on a regular basis. 

Bob was blessed with two sons. Mathew is in real estate and Jon takes very good care of the Commerce Blvd. store. He says his sons are straight shooters just like their father. Two grandkids are also in grandpa’s sight-maybe to get into the carpet business?

Rugworks is truly a family owned business. Everyone who works at Rugworks is family. Bob says that he has been around long enough to have a dozen top notch installers and the Rugworks family just gets bigger and better.

Rugworks, just as Bob always has, is still putting community first by supporting local charities, non-profits, newspapers, schools and sports teams. Bob may be partially retired but he still sticks by his guns that the importance of a quality floor installation is from an expert and licensed installer. Rugworks has several installers that have been with the company going on to twenty years. The Sonoma location was opened in 2003 and both stores have built and maintained an excellent relationship with the community by providing exceptional customer service and competitive prices.

Bob has a line that says, “the biggest risk in life is not taking any risk at all.”