Doug Stewart didn’t have much of a choice when it came to being in the furniture industry.
Over a decade before he was born, his grandfather founded their family furniture business, and by the time Stewart was born, his grandfather had multiple stores. One of those stores was owned by his parents, so Stewart spent his days growing up around furniture.
“I quite literally grew up either going to, coming from or talking about furniture stores 100% of the time,” he says. “Most of my breakfast, lunch, and dinner was eaten at a furniture store unless I was at school.”
After graduating college, Stewart eventually worked at his grandfather’s furniture store, and he’s moved throughout the industry ever since.
He purchased the family business after college and decided it was time to move on about a year after his grandfather passed. He moved on to work for iconic furniture and bedding brands like, Tempurpedic, Bassett, and Valspar/Guardsman.
“I’ve been on the retail side, the wholesale side, I’ve been a buyer, I’ve been a vendor, I’ve been on the factory side, so there’s very little of the industry that I haven’t had exposure to,” he says.
He took a brief hiatus from the industry for the past five years to work with Dale Carnegie Training where he wrote, sold, delivered, and sustained training solutions for Fortune 500 companies, and that’s where he became what he calls “industry agnostic.”
“Leaving the industry forced me to become proficient in different industries, like medical, automotive, manufacturing, and finance,” he says. “And then in 2016, I had the honor to give my first TEDx Talk on Mentorship. In 2020 (during the first lock-down) I wrote a book on the same topic.”
But after all of that, Stewart felt something was missing: the furniture industry. That’s when he called Bob McCarthy at Resident Home and was offered a job by Shawn Slattery on the company’s national sales team, where he works today.
Now, he’s bringing his expertise to the ReTell podcast, which will focus on strategies for industry members who want to improve their business, their team, or their professional capacity in the industry.
“So we’re going to cover a lot around sales and marketing in particular, but also, we’re going to do a lot of zooming out and strategy,” he says. “As an example, I’ve got an episode in the cue that’s about perverse incentives. It’s really more an episode for owners, leaders, and managers of a retail store that will help them be able to delineate the difference between an incentive structure that will actually help them get to their goals, versus one that would have the opposite effect and actually make them less profitable.”
He adds that he’s excited to share some of the many of those stories that have been so instructive and helpful to him to a broader audience through The FAM.
The name, as Stewart explains, goes back to his days growing up in the industry.
“You have to have something very special to be good at retail, which is you have to have thick skin,” he says. “But you also have to have a heart soft enough to really care about people. And so the first meaning of ReTell is a play on the word ‘retail.’ Growing up and being raised by my entrepreneurial, depression-era grandfather, storytelling was non-negotiable in our family. And he always said that if you can tell a story and if you can sell, you can survive. So the ability to tell and retell the stories of success and insight and wins and losses, I believe, is imperative for us as an industry.”
The new podcast is available right here on The FAM, or you can stream it on all major platforms.
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