When Bob Lewis founded Closet & Storage Concepts in 1987, he was breaking into uncharted territory. Not only was the bulk of activity and popularity among consumers within the closet and organization industry taking place on the West Coast, there was also a severe lack of education about the segment’s growth potential. But Lewis knew that if he established a strong presence and launched a different type of closet and organization brand, he would be able to create something that would last for years down the line.
According to Lewis, that type of confidence as a leader and business owner is something that has always been a part of his DNA.
“I’ve known since a very young age that I wanted to have my own business. I’ve always been incredibly entrepreneurial—even as a teenager, I was finding odd jobs like cutting lawns and shoveling snow to make a living,” said Lewis. “I think that type of drive is hard wired into you. Launching your own business isn’t something that comes without hard work, and you need to have a strong passion for what you’re doing in order to make it successful.”
Today, 30 years after first founding his brand, it’s clear that Lewis was right. Since opening its doors for business, Closet & Storage Concepts has acquired More Space Place and launched a franchise opportunity that’s currently made up of more than 40 locations. And demand in the industry is only climbing—as a whole, the segment is expected to bring in $9.4 billion by the end of the year.
But getting to this point—and continuing to expand—hasn’t been an easy process. That’s why Lewis says that he’s had to adjust his leadership style as Closet & Storage Concepts has grown as well as reshape his perspective on what it means to move a successful brand forward.
“When I first launched Closet & Storage Concepts 30 years ago, I thought that in order to be a successful leader you needed to be good at everything. There’s a lot of pressure to have it all, whether you’re an entry level employee or a CEO. But now, I realize that it’s much better to know what you’re good at and capitalize on those specific strengths. You can then surround yourself with a strong team that fills in the gaps. That’s ultimately what will improve your brand and create a layer of diversity that will help you move forward,” said Lewis.
That ability to be flexible is ultimately what has helped Closet & Storage Concepts tap into its staying potential. The brand has gone through many changes over the past three decades, from breaking into franchising to acquiring another company. But by ensuring that everyone on the Closet & Storage Concepts team is willing to think outside of the box, the brand has been able to show consistent growth in an increasingly popular industry.
“When we first franchised the business, it took a big effort on everybody’s part to adapt to a new way of running a business. There’s a huge difference between leading a corporate business and running one that’s operating as a franchise. We really had to figure out how to look beyond the prism of our personal experiences,” said Lewis. “The fact that we accomplished that and came out on the other end stronger was a great accomplishment for the Closet & Storage Concepts brand. It shows that we have the ability to do great things as long as we remember to break outside of our comfort zones.”
Going forward, that commitment to creativity approaching change with a fresh perspective is something that Lewis plans to promote across Closet & Storage Concepts’ entire leadership team. And even as things evolve, there are still a few qualities that will stay constant across the board as the brand welcomes more people to its system.
“The best thing that you can do as a leader is say please and thank you a lot. It’s absolutely critical to keep your team in mind, and that you recognize the hard work that others are putting in along the way,” said Lewis. “Also, try not to get too high or too low. The world only ends once, and things are never really as good or as bad as they seem. By staying even-keeled, you’ll be prepared for both the best and worst days. And that consistency across the board will ultimately help you make the best decisions for your brand and your team.”