Dealer Spotlight is our new 10 question blog series where we feature Organizers Direct dealers from around the nation. Today, we sat down with Matt Sohn and Camille Kurowski of Desert Sky Closets to learn more about their four and a half years of experience as an Organizers Direct dealer.
Tell us your background and how you came to join Organizers Direct as a dealer?
Camille: I have a background in architecture and interior design. The thought of owning our own business was appealing and we thought the home improvement space would be a good industry to try. I took furniture making and woodworking classes, I’d go to installs and take my own drill, drive the truck, and do whatever was needed.
Matt: My background is pretty different. I was a sports writer for years, then a football scout. I wanted to increase my income and I’ve always had an entrepreneurial passion. In 2010, I bought a foreclosure in Chicago that I flipped and ultimately received a strong return. This planted the seed of focusing on home improvement and funding our own business.
My mom renovated a condo in Los Angeles in 2014 and had a great experience with a company that did her doors and closets. Camille and I looked into a variety of business models, and decided that the custom closet business was one of the best models. It wasn’t too complicated, you don’t have to carry inventory like you would in so many other businesses.
We made the decision to go solely with Organizers Direct after we got a taste of all they had to offer. We launched our business in Scottsdale in the summer of 2015, and are going strong for four and a half years now. We have a growing team and we’re in the process of hiring a second salesperson. Organizers Direct is a key part of our team and we also have people who help us with specialty installations, handymen, painters, electricians, bookkeepers, marketing, and more.
What is your primary service at Desert Sky Closets?
We’d say about 70% of our business is focused on custom closets, 15% on garages and the remaining 15% split between home offices, pantries, mudrooms and laundry rooms.
What was the process of getting started and launching your own business as a dealer like?
Camille: We were heavily involved in everything, which can be taxing but is also helpful as you grow since you know the business inside and out. Organizers Direct helped us every step of the way. The first time we did a garage installation, they actually sent someone down to help us with it.
Why did you decide to go with Organizers Direct, rather than other companies in the space?
For one, their proprietary digital design software, Live Storage, is a game-changer. When we go into design appointments, we’re one of the only teams that sits down with a customer and designs in real time so they can see different iterations and price points at that moment.
Also, the corporate support we get is everything to us. We talk to our Regional Sales Manager, Jane Wallace at least three times a week, and her responsiveness is second to none. There are many at Organizers Direct who are like family, they care about our success and are a partner in every sense of the word. They have so many resources and team members, but also have a friendly, family-like atmosphere.
Organizers Direct also has a symposium so we can go through modules to learn more about the features of their software, tips for installing on the site, new products, and more. We feel so supported. Also, Organizers Direct stays on top of trends. We consider Organizers Direct our mentor – and our competitive edge.
What is your current day-to-day like?
Matt: I mostly spend my time on field work. I do all of the design right there in the home with the customer. I’ll also take phone calls from installers throughout the day, but by and large, our guys know what to do. I also manage our calendar, and field calls from clients when they want to change something in their design or push out the date of their installation. We always have something new we’re looking to work on. It’s part of the fun of it. It’s not 9-5 Monday to Friday either. We do weekend appointments, and work whenever it’s needed.
Camille: I do a lot of the work behind the scenes; mostly office work. I handle payroll, invoicing and filing papers. I’m also the random project person. If we have something coming up we haven’t done before or something that requires new parts, I spend time figuring that out.
What has been your favorite project you’ve worked on?
About two and a half years into our business, we got a call from someone in Williams, Arizona. The gentleman on the other end of the line asked if we service Williams. We told him no, that it was too far for us. But then he said, “It’s for 18 closets.” So of course, our response was: “That’s not too far for us to travel!”
This customer had built an enormous house on a big piece of land for essentially a family compound. He had rooms for his kids and grandkids, and there were literally 18 walk-in closets in the residence. It was the largest single family residence ever zoned for that county in Arizona, about 25k square feet. This was our largest project by far, and just such a fun one. Best of all, the family loved the results.
What has been the key to your success?
First and foremost, hiring the right people. Vlad, our crew leader, is an A+ all-star. We’ve taken particular care to make sure every subsequent hire holds to the same standard of excellence.
Secondly, communication with customers is so important to us. It’s the one thing that many businesses fall short on.
Third, fostering relationships with current customers is huge. Half of our revenue is referrals; we have customers that love our work and bring in family and friends.
Tell us about your hobbies! What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Matt: I like to golf, and go out when I get a chance. Camille and I both like to be active and take weekends here and there to get up to Sedona and Flagstaff. We also try to see our families in Chicago and LA when we can.
Camille: Given my background in architecture and interior design, I do a couple projects a year (and some have been the result of referrals from our closest customers).Matt and I also love to hang out with our “son” Totti, a Maltese Poodle, and watch TV when we’ve earned some downtime.
If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be?
Camille : I would design movie sets.
Matt: Astronaut. Going to space was always my childhood dream.
What’s your favorite thing about working as an Organizers Direct dealer?
We can price how we want and market how we want, so it’s the best of both worlds. We get the resources without the restrictions. It’s almost like franchine-type support, but without having to market ourselves as a franchise would.
Additionally, the team is always there to help us. Their software is great, and we just feel so lucky to have them as a partner in going through this.