Connecting To Future Generations
David Boone and Lily Kucek:
Lily Kucek, daughter of owner Victor Kucek, spent a summer’s day at Ernest Gaspard. Lily capitalized on her time and interviewed David Boone who has been a part of Ernest Gaspard and the interior design industry for decades.
Lily: How did you get started?
David: By accident. While waiting to be enlisted in the Navy, I assisted my father, who was in the carpet business, during a design market. Patterson Flynn And Martin met with us and asked what my plans were. After I mentioned the Navy had my enrollment on hold for 6 months, they said come set up the East Coast showrooms with us. I came to Atlanta in 1971 and met Ernie. At that time Ernie hired me as an independent rep and after a short hiatus in Chicago in 1984 I became Ernie’s business partner.
Lily: What do you like most about your profession?
David: Definitely the people. The designers, manufacturers and my coworkers. People became an extended family. On every sales trip I was shown kindness and warmth, and was welcomed in many homes. I always ate well in Mississippi.
Lily: What is the best place you had to travel for your job? And why?
David: With PFM I traveled to Majorca, Spain to see hand knotted rugs. It is a beautiful country, and I stood in amazement while watching the traditional processes of antiquing rugs. They were actually beating the rugs with rocks. Many years later with Rak at Jagtar, I visited India and Thailand. I was really taken by the craftsmanship in India – The people in huts have 2 or 3 looms and are hand dying the yarn, spinning and weaving.
Lily: What are some challenges you overcame in your career? And how did you?
David: The hardest and biggest challenges were the economy downturns. In 1987 the stock market crashed and consumers became fearful of spending their assets on luxury products; projects were put on hold. Consumers do not spend and continue upgrading their interiors until the economy stabilizes again. During 9/11 sales took a hard hit for 3-6 months and again, with the housing downturn during 2008-2012. To persevere we kept in close contact with the designers to plan and support them in the best way. We offered reasonably priced design solutions, thought two steps ahead in providing information to save time and created new business relationships.
Lily: How have things changed when you started doing this years ago?
David: The most dramatic change is forms of communication. When I started, sale inquiries and orders were relayed by telephone and postal system only. I think the first real upgrade in technology was the fax machine and I thought it was incredible. You could send and receive a note instantly over the phone lines. Then of course since then the computer technology and sales programs available have come along way. We do not sell only in person but now also through websites and social media. Soon we will have new ways to track sales and technical tools in place to reach designers more effectively.
Lily: What advice do you have for me to be successful in interior design?
David: Listening and learning is the most important way to be successful. These skills can never be replaced by technology. When you listen, you understand the conflicts clients are facing and in turn you can provide the right solution. One will become aware of the products and materials the designer specifies in their designs so you can tailor your presentation to them and make your time productive and successful.
Lily: What do you think things will be like in 15 years when I Graduate college and work here?
David: Since the industry, technology and the economy is changing so rapidly I honestly do not know. I would say that as long as you continue to be as organized as you seem to be today, then you are going to be fine and successful in however the market changes.
Lily: If there is one word you want to be known for what is it and why?
David: Reliable. Why? I think that to be successful you have to follow through, and produce the results you promised. The follow up word to that would be dependable. Along with that would be honest and fair as well so that your clients want to come back and work with you again.
Lily: Is there anything else you want to share?
David: No, other than I really enjoyed this. Again, I think that you are well on your way to a successful start whether it is interior design or another industry. The world of opportunities is yours.