Decorium – Behind the Business with Steve Forberg
In the old days, following your father into the family business was a given. But lately – politicians aside – it’s becoming rare for a younger generation to continue the career of the previous one. Not so for Steve Forberg, who, after gaining experience in the corporate retail world, and together with his brother Howard, recently assumed leadership of the company started by his father nearly 30 years ago.
We interviewed the CEO of Decorium – the stylish furniture retailer selling to designers, decorators and the public from two locations in Toronto – and spoke about life at the head of a successful company, maintaining the family legacy, and what it takes to succeed.
Tell us about your business. What do you do and who are your customers?
Decorium offers stylish home furnishings to interior designers, home builders and individual clients. We have a flagship location with 100,000 square feet of furniture and accessories and we’ve recently opened a boutique storefront location downtown.
We aim to be the Canada’s first choice for top quality, beautiful furniture that isn’t priced out of reach and our goal is to offer something for everyone.
What do you offer? Are there any products or services that are particularly important to your business and customers?
We try to maintain a lineup of products that fit everyone’s taste and style. Every room in the house is covered, and whether you’re into traditional, transitional, rustic chic, contemporary or Hollywood glam, chances are we have something on hand that will satisfy. In terms of service, we do offer complimentary interior design services, whereby we’ll help you plan your rooms. Clients bring in floor plans, paint colours, and accessories and our designers help create a space. But ultimately, we make sure we have an unswerving dedication to customer service across the entire length of our relationship. That’s our difference, really.
How did you get into the field? Is it a family legacy or are you a pioneer?
I got into the business after several years working in the corporate retail world gaining other experience before entering the family business. I worked for Sports Authority when they were in Canada in their Merchandising department. This is a family business started back in 1986 by my father. My brother is also in the business. I did go to school and studied Business knowing it would be beneficial to gain as much knowledge in this field as possible, as after all everything is a business!
Why do you love what you do? What it is that drives you every day?
I enjoy the business as many people do not realize how their home and their furnishings make them feel every day. I get to be part of that and be sure that my clients are not only comfortable but also have a fashionable home. Imagine sitting on an uncomfortable sofa, or dining chairs, or a bed with a bad mattress. We allow our clients and their families to feel comfort at home, which after all is what a home should be. This is partially what drives me the other part is seeing products that we have sourced hit our showroom floor and have our clients purchase. Buying is a difficult process but so nice when we hit a product that people love that we cannot get enough off.
Was it all smooth sailing or have you had to overcome adversity to get where you are?
It has not always been smooth sailing, like any business there are always challenges but it is how we handle those challenges that makes us better. When I came into the business we were growing at a very rapid rate and it was so exciting. The recession hit and then we had to deal with that and come out on the other side.
We have had adversity but we have always been able to adapt and that’s what makes small business so unique – we can change on a dime.
We all know that crazy happens. What’s the wildest thing that’s happened on the job?
One of the wildest things we had happen was one of our ocean containers that was coming from Asia and all of its contents was completely sold had fallen off the steam ship and fallen into the ocean. Don’t ask but we did get it replaced in 5 weeks!
How are you involved in your local community? Do you sponsor a sports team, host an annual barbecue, donate to a local charity?
We are heavily involved in the community. We do sponsor a few local sports teams, we donate to several worthy charities each year. Over the past 8 years we have raised over $350,000 for Baycrest in support of Alzheimer’s research and care.
Do you have any advice for aspiring business owners just starting out?
Yes, don’t take your foot off the gas pedal. Keep forging ahead and don’t let the words ‘can’t’ or ‘try’ enter your vocabulary. There will always be challenges and adversity – that’s business. And remember you’re only as good as the team you surround yourself with, so invest in your people as they are what makes a company.