JL Closets creates a strategy for growth
March 17, 2021 | 12:01 pm CDT
The South Florida closet firm has grown significantly over the past six years with 60 employees and three showroom locations.

Photo By JL Closets

JL Closets, located in Boca Raton, Florida, began more than 30 years ago as a small business owned by two brothers originally from New York. One of them had previously worked for California Closets before they both moved to Florida to launch their own company.
Starting small, it quickly established a network of happy customers and word-of-mouth referrals, with a strong potential for growth.
That growth potential attracted Kristoffer Nino, a former consultant with expertise in helping companies grow.
“I wanted to change my lifestyle a little bit, not be on the road so much, [so I] decided to buy a business,” he said.
After looking at more than 300 companies across several industries, he purchased JL Closets because of its recurring customer base and repeat business, and its ability to be successful on “very little marketing.”
Also, he added, “from an industry standpoint, I liked the construction industry, and I could see that there would be a lot more growth in construction over the next several years. This has proven to be accurate. Those things, in combination, were some of the main reasons I bought the business.” 
That was six years ago. At the time of purchase, JL Closets had 15 employees and operated out of a small facility. The company has since expanded tremendously, now with approximately 60 employees, three showrooms, and more than triple the manufacturing/warehouse space.
The expansion to a larger facility down the street from the original location occurred approximately three years ago. Coinciding with the move, JL Closets also automated its manufacturing processes, including the purchase of a Biesse CNC router and edgebander, and Altendorf sliding table saws.
Nino’s experience and background were vital in developing the proper infrastructure, management team and personnel to facilitate the company’s growth. He immersed himself in the business to learn every aspect from the ground level and develop ways to make it scalable.
“At first, we hired a bunch of designers, and then we hired a sales manager, and she hired more people, and so on – and built the machine that builds the machine.”  With the right team in place, he added, “I’m completely hands-off in terms of sales. I monitor the business and make sure we’re on a good path, and we treat our customers right.”

South Florida clientele

JL Closets’ projects run the gamut, from working directly with single-family homeowners to contracts with high-end interior designers and custom home builders. 
“We have a pretty good split between those two [categories], and our secret sauce is we provide a high level of service, similar to the well-known national brands,” Nino explained. “But we do it at a lower cost.”
Not only is the ability to provide a high level of customer service and an affordable pricing structure key to making those relationships work, but also the ability to keep the projects profitable by keeping costs in line. Added variables include the fact that they don’t have the fees associated with franchises, and they don’t have to spend a significant portion of revenue on marketing.
“We do whatever we think is necessary, and we put more of our money towards service, and therefore creating a great level of repeat business, as opposed to putting it all in marketing.”
Customer service is essentially the cornerstone of the company’s success. The mantra is to do whatever needs to be done to ensure the customer’s happiness, even if that means redoing an entire closet or changing a color. 
“When you’re working with high-end clients and high-end designers, you’ve got to go the extra mile,” he added.
And that philosophy permeates through the entire company, from the designers to the shop workers and installers.
JL Closets’ design styles include a mix of conteporary and high-gloss projects.

Creating the designs

JL Closets’ design styles include a mix of contemporary and high-gloss projects.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a majority of our work that’s contemporary,” Nino said. “But it’s probably more than you would find in the Midwest or other parts of the country. That’s because we are in South Florida, and there’s a lot more modern architecture here.”
The design process currently is a hybrid model because of the pandemic, allowing for a virtual consultation approach and a site visit option. Recommendations are offered but designers make final decisions on how to handle their clients depending on the size of the job. 
As for popular designs in demand in the South Florida area, JL Closets Sales Manager Jennifer Caiola said, "South Florida trends lean more toward the sleek lines and matt gold accents.
"There are so many options that clients can choose from to organize their space and create something they love and feel proud of."
The company uses KCD Software, and designs can be created on-site, but larger projects are often designed at the office. All designs are sent to the engineering department for review and to create a parts list for manufacturing.

Future plans

When asked about the company’s goals moving forward, Nino said that although the company has an aggressive growth target, he wants to make sure that the growth is sustainable without losing focus on clients. 
“Because that’s the most important thing, always making sure our clients are happy,” he said. “So, we’re going to grow pretty aggressively in the next couple of years. 
“In 2020, we expanded into Tampa, Orlando, and Naples, and we’re going to continue to grow those markets this year,” he added.
For information, visit jlclosets.com.

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About the author
Michaelle Bradford | Editor

Michaelle Bradford, CCI Media, is Editor of Closets & Organized Storage magazine and Managing Editor for Woodworking Network. She has more than 19 years of experience covering the woodworking and design industry, including visits to custom cabinet shops, closet firms and design studios throughout North America. As Editor of Closets & Organized Storage magazine under the Woodworking Network brand, Michaelle’s responsibilities include writing, editing and coordinating editorial content as well as managing annual design competitions like the Top Shelf Design Awards. She is also a contributor to FDMC and other Woodworking Network online and print media owned by CCI Media.