Jeup Furniture grows by design


    Walking through the new home of Jeup Furniture at 4171 Luxe Court SE near the airport, it’s easy to see the company’s dedication to design. It’s everywhere: in the high-tech meeting room, in the kitchen that is big enough to service the entire company but still has private spaces, even in what might normally be a bland hallway, where veneered cabinets add interest.

    And when founder and CEO Joseph Jeup opens the door to the manufacturing department, or, as he calls it, “the showroom,” his response is akin to Willy Wonka opening the door to his chocolate factory. You can almost hear Jeup’s heart singing: “If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it.”

    To the untrained eye the showroom looks like a big boxy room containing a lot of tools and shelves. But to Jeup, there’s much more to it. Everything has been purposely designed, from the workflow to the labels, and one of Jeup’s favorite things: the shelves.

    The company moved into the 45,000-square-foot building at the beginning of January. The space has roughly 30 to 40 percent more usable space than its previous home, which was split between two buildings. The new space also has plenty of room to expand.

    “Our other building worked out great for us; we just grew out of it. It was just time,” Jeup said. “The other thing is, we were landlocked there; here, I designed the building so that we could triple the space if we wanted to” — which may happen sooner rather than later.

    The next step for Jeup Furniture is to expand its overseas presence.

    “The next real push for me is focusing on European and Middle Eastern sales,” said Jeup. “We’re partnering up with people to have Jeup represented, as well as products I design with other firms. We’re opening in Paris this month. The North American market is very important for us, but Europe is kind of our expansion into more of a global market to keep us well rounded.”

    While many area furniture companies are experiencing difficult times, Jeup Furniture has positioned itself in a unique market.

    “It’s a very different market. We don’t appeal to the retail market, so we’re not a commodities-driven company,” said Jeup. “We’re more of a luxury trade group.”

    Jeup said he is influenced by trends at companies like Apple or by what’s going on in the fashion industry. Observing the way customers live and what they care about is important.

    “The key thing for me right now is about this whole brand building a lifestyle. When you take a profile of who are our customers … the intrinsic value of these people — they care about whether or not the label’s straight. They care if there’s a hand tag that says how to care for something. Those are important things to them.”

    Even though the company is growing in the midst of a down economy, Jeup said such an economy has helped him think in different ways.

    “Ultimately, one of the things a down market does is it forces you to think creatively. In fact, in my mind, it’s a moment of clarity for everybody. One of the things (about) being a new company and being a sole owner, we’ve really been in a moment of clarity for 11 years,” laughed Jeup.

    “You have to make good decisions and you have to think creatively: ‘How can I get things done?’ The old adage ‘There’s more than one way to skin a cat’ is so true.”

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