When I was 30 years old I started FiberCare Inc., not because I always wanted to be in business but because I didn’t want to teach, I didn’t want to look for a job, and I loved the fabric protection and service business.
Here it is 35 years later and we are still going strong with a high end cleaning business added on.
I could toot my own horn saying most businesses fail in the early years, or even brag that even with a Master’s degree I had never had a business class. I didn’t even know which was net and which was gross, to my Father’s chagrin. So, what was the secret to creating a long lasting business?
The first thing is obvious, hard work. I worked hard during the week and spent the weekends doing paperwork with no computer just a calculator and a few friends doing secretarial duties.
The second thing, was customer service, I offer/ offered a terrific product and caring for my customer was always most important. The third thing was integrity.
I learned quickly that everyday in business is an integrity test. Would I give this designer a bigger referral fee just because my competitor would? Would I give this customer a discount because they were trying to intimidate me by losing a big job if I didn’t ? Would I allow a furniture store to use my company’s good name (FiberCare) but charge inflated prices?
These morality questions weighed hard on me the first months in business, I didn’t like it that everyday I had to deal with these emotional dilemmas. So I made a decision. Integrity is black and white, just like the truth. I would ALWAYS take the high road, my company would always have integrity. I would not be intimidated by the very rich, I would not have my arm twisted by the powerful furniture stores and I will not be threatened by fear or blackmailed by what someone will write on the Internet.
So, thank you to my clients, my designers, my friends, my trusted employees and Patrick, who have all contributed to 35 great years of taking excellent care of your fine furnishings. I have a computer now, I don’t work all weekend anymore but integrity, that hasn’t changed. It’s still black and white.