Good organization has been key to Bob Lewis’ success. As president and CEO of Closet & Storage Concepts and More Space Place, he has guided the multi-million dollar operation to a leadership position in the home organization industry.
It was Lewis’ experience in consumer electronics, real estate and remodeling that helped open the door to the closets and home storage markets. “It was an outgrowth of those. I also found I enjoyed renovating spaces as efficiently as possible.”
That passion resulted in the founding of Closet & Storage Concepts in 1987 and the 2013 acquisition of More Space Place, a top retailer of Murphy beds.
“I see us growing organically with the two brand identities,” he said, citing the company’s franchise opportunities.
Its efforts have not gone unnoticed. Closet & Storage Concepts/More Space Place ranked #16 on Franchise Times’ 2016 “Fast and Serious” list of the 40 smartest growing brands with system-wide sales over $40 million. It was the only home improvement firm listed.
With approximately 40 franchises already, it’s not done yet. Offering a traditional franchise model, with a manufacturing operation and showroom in the same building, they have expanded into showroom-only franchises in retail shopping centers. According to Lewis, the dual franchise models not only provides flexibility in the setup, but also reflects the make-up of the closet and storage market. “We want to continue to improve the unit economics and create the best opportunities for all franchises so they can continue to have high levels of performance.”
Lewis added, “I’m personally not a woodworker, but I started a business that had a woodworking component, so I consider myself part of the industry.” His role is best termed as business manager. “If I tried to be hands on now, I’m not sure it would be good for the business,” he joked.
Instead, Lewis attributes much of the company’s success to his team of workers. “It’s all about filling gaps,” Lewis says. “I try to identify my own gaps as a person and business owner – and fill the gaps in the organization by putting the right people in the right role. We’re also creating a culture that engenders people to feel good about what they do.”
Closet & Storage Concepts also supports many charitable groups, including Make a Wish, Autism Speaks, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, American Cancer Society, and the local Aids fund and Alicia Rose Victorious Foundation, which helps teen patients in the hospital.
In his spare time, Lewis enjoys spending time with his wife and three children, as well as biking, skiing and reading.
Number of years at the company: 30 years
Number of years in the industry: 30 years
Phrase that describes you: Passionately engaged with a can-do attitude. I love the business I’m in and the people.
Business mantra: Things are never as good as they seem or as bad as they seem, so never try to get too high or too low. In other words, try to maintain an even keel, and try to solve problems one at a time, or you’ll never get anything done.
Best advice: Put the right people in the right role and the organization gets stronger. It’s from the original Rocky movie. “When Adrian’s brother asks what Rocky sees in her, he says ‘She’s got gaps, I got gaps – together we fill gaps.’
Who is the person you most respect in business? All of us in the industry owe a huge debt of gratitude to Neil Balter.