Empire Today, LLC is a Northlake, Illinois-based home improvement and home furnishing company, specializing in installed carpet, flooring, and window treatments. The company operates in more than 75 metropolitan areas in the United States, making it a leading provider of installed home improvements and home furnishings in North America. Empire Today was founded in 1959 by Seymour Cohen in partnership with Jonathan Samuel Beute. Empire Today has served over one million customers. Empire Today was named the country's #1 or #2 Specialty Flooring Retailer (in total dollar amount of sales) from 2007 to 2010 by Floor Covering Weekly.
Empire Today is known for making in-home sales appointments and next day installation on many of its products. Empire Today offers next day installation on carpet, hardwood flooring, laminate flooring, ceramic flooring, vinyl flooring and window treatments.
Empire Carpet is the historical, commonly known name for Empire Today LLC. Empire was founded by entrepreneur Seymour Cohen in 1959 as Empire Plastic Covers, a private, family-owned business in Chicago from a small office space. Owner Seymour Cohen decided to expand its product line in response to growing customer request. In 1965, Empire Plastic Covers changed its name to Empire Home Services, adding carpet to their product line. Over the years, Empire’s product line grew, as did the company’s national presence. In November 2000, the company was sold and then in 2003, adopted its current name - Empire Today.
Empire Today's advertising is prevalent in areas serviced by the company, throughout major urban areas across North America. The company's prominent television and web ads feature the recognizable "Empire Man" character.
The "Empire Man" was introduced in 1978 as a live action character and later adapted into a popular animated persona that has grown to become a cultural icon. The "Empire Man" has been seen internationally in commercials and other media, has spawned a line of collectible bobblehead dolls and inspired the Chicago Cubs to declare an official "Empire Day" at Wrigley Field in 2007.
The "Empire Man" was originally portrayed on television by Lynn Hauldren from 1978 through 2011, a former ad executive. After Empire Today decided to retire the live character in favor of a computer-animated version, Hauldren continued to provide voiceovers for the ads until his death in 2011. Some of the commercials with his voice are still airing. Contrary to popular belief, the "Empire Man" was not the company’s owner nor was he one of the installers. In the late 1970s, Hauldren was one of the advertising copywriting forces behind the Empire brand. The company’s owner during the time requested that he serve as the on-air talent for the spots after unsuccessfully auditioning several other people for the role. Hauldren also wrote and recorded the tune used as the company’s famous jingle.
Empire Today's advertising jingle, which has been broadcast since 1977, is a widely recognized theme. The jingle is simply a small mixed gender vocal group singing out the digits of the telephone number. The original Chicago-centered version was only the seven-digit number:
As the chain expanded nationally in 2000 (though it was first used in a commercial in 1996 due to the addition of more area codes in the Chicago area), the same tune was used, but with an 800 number prefix added for the company's toll-free number:
After changing its name to Empire Today in February 2003, the new name was added to the jingle, which resulted in a sped-up version of the song so "Today" could be included. After a brief period the jingle reverted to the original, but with the Empire Man saying "today" at the end. This jingle still continues to be used.
In 2011, Empire Today implemented a carpet and padding recycling program to minimize the environmental impact of their day-to-day operations. In cooperation with Carpet America Recovery Effort (CARE) and CLEAR (Carpet Landfill Elimination And Recycling), 100% of the carpet and padding removed by Empire Today’s residential, small business and commercial installers that can be recycled, will be recycled. In first quarter 2011, Empire piloted the program in select areas, and the program is currently operational in more than 25 of Empire’s service areas. Since the program’s inception, over eight million pounds of carpet and padding have been recycled, according to Empire’s waste tonnage reporting.