Rob Nusbaum, president and CEO of EuroAmerica Design in Troy, shares why he created a 15,000-foot showroom, the latest kitchen trends and his favorite spots in Italy.
By Stephanie Steinberg
Title: President & CEO of EuroAmerica Design
Hometown: Franklin, Michigan
Schools attended: Detroit Country Day and Michigan State University for a business degree
1. How’d you get started in retail?
My love for retail began working by my father’s side at our family business, New York Carpet World. The last three generations of my family have been in retail, which all started when my grandfather came to the U.S. in 1926 and started the company. It became the largest retail flooring company in the country.
2. You created EuroAmerica Design in 2014. Why did you want to open this home showroom?
I started in the kitchen cabinet business as a distributor for Berloni — a leading Italian brand of cabinets. In 2014, we decided to expand our 15,000 square foot showroom to be open as a retail business, to directly serve customers and designers. At that time, we changed our name to EuroAmerica Design, as we saw an opportunity to bring in additional European and domestic brands to the marketplace. This was during the time when the recession was ending, and we were seeing more home building, with new construction and renovations starting to rise again.
Each year, modern design is increasing nationally in popularity. With our forte in contemporary furnishings and cabinets, we are uniquely positioned to offer the latest trends to our customers.
3. Is there an advantage to being located across the street from The Michigan Design Center?
Located walking distance from the Michigan Design Center makes it easy for our clients, including interior designers and builders, when they are looking to choose multiple items for their home. We get a great deal of walk in traffic from the Design Center as well.
4. Walking through a 15,000-square-foot place can be a little overwhelming (I can’t handle going through Ikea). What are some things you’ve done to make it easy to navigate and not so overwhelming?
Our in-house designers tour clients through the beautiful showroom displays — which include 10 kitchens, six bathrooms, two wardrobe systems and more. Many of the displays are purposefully designed to show the endless possibilities of kitchen design — from color and texture to functionality and use of space. Many people comment how happy they feel being in such an open, modern environment.
5. What are some strategies you use to draw people to the showroom?
We often partner with media sources, community organizations, as well as design partners to host events in our showroom. It’s a natural environment for cooking demonstrations, networking events, as well as industry-related functions. Serving a good wine and dessert are a must!
6. How does your team come up with the designs for the displays?
Our designers collaborate on the design of our showroom displays — so many of the designs you see are their vision. Since our designers are the ones who are interfacing with our customers every day, it’s important that they are up on the latest trends from Europe. Recently, three of our designers attended the EuroCucine — the kitchen show in Milan, Italy. So they are really the ones driving the discussion.
7. How do you keep on top of all the kitchen, bath and home trends?
In addition to attending the kitchen and bath trade shows in Europe, we host designers in our showroom from Italy and Germany who bring us the latest trends and ideas.
8. As president and CEO of EuroAmerica Design, you often communicate with people in Italy. Do you have any advice for business owners who work with people overseas?
Start work early! 9 a.m. Eastern Time is 3 p.m. in Italy.
It’s actually somewhat of a seamless process, as all of the European manufacturers have agents that speak fluent English. And email surely does help.
Of course, when we visit Europe, or manufacturer representatives visit our offices, we see them face to face and it makes it easier. Especially, when starting a new business relationship, communication is always better in person, if possible.
9. What do you enjoy about your job?
Although kitchen design can be a complex business, working on all the details are very rewarding as we are changing people’s lifestyles for the better. When people are home, it is a known fact that they spend the majority of time in their kitchens. It is a gathering space for the entire family and for guests. We have a great sense of satisfaction helping our clients bring their vision to life and enjoying it for many years — even decades — to come.
10. Can you share a challenge you’ve encountered?
Space is always an issue. It is common for us to remodel a kitchen space to not only update the look and feel, but to make it function more efficiently for daily life. We are able to leverage our many products to create both a stylish and functional design.
Another challenge is designing kitchens in multi-unit projects that have many different layouts. We work closely with the builder to maintain a consistent design and stay on budget.
In addition to our 15,000-square-foot showroom space, we have an adjacent workshop where we stock goods from our manufacturers. This enables us to customize or fix issues that may surface during installation, rather than waiting for a new piece to arrive from Europe.
11. Who’s been a mentor in your career?
My father Irving Nusbaum and his partner Marvin Berlin — two of the greatest retailers and marketers that I’ve ever known. While building New York Carpet World, they both understood the psychology of customer service. Years ago, my father was one of the first owners to act as a television spokesperson for his own commercials. They truly were master marketers.
12. What’s the best career advice you ever received?
Do the job right the first time, in order to satisfy your customers every time.
Now on to some fun questions…
13. What are some kitchen trends we should know about for 2018?
Modern, modern and modern! Contemporary design continues to be the first choice for kitchen remodeling and design. We often mix materials, colors, solids and textures, lacquers, woods and laminates.
Technology is allowing the interior of the cabinet door to be lighter in weight, as European manufacturers are starting to use aluminum which enables us to design larger doors than ever before. An aluminum door can be veneered, so it actually looks like a wood door. Also we are seeing the concrete look as a popular cabinet texture.
Europe is showing many open units, without doors, utilizing a metal framework with shelving. Popular colors for next year are grey and medium dark woods. At EuroAmerica Design, we are selling these trends now, putting us years ahead of most other dealers.
14. What’s your favorite room in your home and why?
It may not surprise you that I love spending time in my kitchen. It’s the heart of our home, the place where our family and friends gather and is always a central place for entertaining.
15. If you could design a home for anyone, who would it be and why?
Neil Peart – World’s Greatest Drummer from the band Rush. Because I want to meet him!
16. How many times have you been to Italy?
17. Favorite spot in Italy?
I mostly travel to Italy for business. Fortunately, the cabinet industry is located in the beautiful, hilly countryside — among vineyards, villas and great food. When visiting, we experience authentic Italy!
One of my favorite cities is Sacile, which is an hour and a half outside Venice. It’s a fantastic, medieval town, with a delicious five-star restaurant, surrounded by Prosecco vineyards.
18. When you’re not working, where can we find you?
On the golf course, at a fine restaurant drinking great wine or playing the drums.
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