Market Leaders: Jennifer Quinn Williams, St. Louis Closet Co.
August 15, 2011 | 5:13 pm CDT

Sometimes it’s the small steps that reap big rewards. For Jennifer Quinn Williams, it was a part-time job that led to a life-changing experience.

“I never envisioned myself with a career in the woodworking industry,” she says. “I was in graduate school at Saint Louis University and was working two jobs. One day I got a part-time job with a local closet company. After just a few days, I thought to myself, ‘I could do this!’ I quit my job with that company, dropped out of graduate school and started St. Louis Closet Co. My father was a master woodworker his entire life, so I guess I came by it naturally.”

Jennifer Q. Williams, Owner & President, St. Louis Closet Co.
Quick Glimpse
• Education: BA, Communications, Saint Louis University • Years at the company: 20
• Years in the industry: 20
• Words that best describe you: Fiercely driven.
• The persons you have tried to emulate in business and why: I come from a long line of entrepreneurs: my parents and grandparents have been my biggest influences when it comes to being successful in business.

Williams launched St. Louis Closet Co. in 1991, the first locally-owned closet company that installed custom organizing systems crafted to fit the exact dimensions of a customer’s closet. “Every day is an opportunity to grow…and the first few years is nothing but learning. You make mistakes, but you learn from them, adjust and keep on going,” she says. “I have the most amazing customer base and the most hardworking employees, so it was definitely not done on my own. I always felt surrounding myself with a great team helped launch Saint Louis Closet Co. and continued it to grow.”

As if her company’s success was not its own reward, Williams herself has received numerous recognitions, including being named Small Business Administration’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year for the entire Midwest Region, just four years after opening St. Louis Closet Co. This year alone, she received not only the SBA’s Entrepreneurial Success Award but also was inducted into Saint Louis University’s Smurfit-Stone Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame.

Indeed, her quest for improvement has helped drive St. Louis Closet Co. to be one of the most recognized custom closet companies in the nation, manufacturing not only laminated closet systems, but also systems for garages, laundry room, pantries, home office and more, at the 30,000-square-foot headquarters. St. Louis Closet Co. is a participating member of NAPO, the National Closet Group, the Association of Closet and Storage Professionals and the RCGA.

“I am always thinking about tomorrow. Entrepreneurs are always asking and dreaming about ‘what’s next.’ I make sure I am always researching the custom closet industry, seeing what other successful businesses are doing — closet industry or not — and seeing how I can apply it to mine. “

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About the author
Karen Koenig | Editor

Karen M. Koenig has more than 30 years of experience in the woodworking industry, including visits to wood products manufacturing facilities throughout North America, Europe and Asia. As editor of special publications under the Woodworking Network brand, including the Red Book Best Practices resource guide and website, Karen’s responsibilities include writing, editing and coordinating of editorial content. She is also a contributor to FDMC and other Woodworking Network online and print media owned by CCI Media. She can be reached at