Tag Archives: husband and wife

Vintage Industrial

Husband And Wife Open Vintage Industrial Warehouse

Greg and Sim Hankerson’s business, Vintage Industrial, expanded from their backyard to a 6,000 square-foot warehouse in less than one year.

After surviving a brain tumor, Greg Hankerson realized success in life and business is about doing something you love. He was previously the chief financial officer of his family’s investment banking firm and decided to search for something more rewarding.

“I just realized how precious life was and that I really needed to do something that I love because I may not be here tomorrow,” Greg Hankerson says. “And that involves taking risks, and this has been the greatest risk of my life.”

But the risk, co-owning a new business — Vintage Industrial, which offers custom vintage furniture — with his wife Sim, quickly paid off. In less than one year, Greg and Sim expanded their business from their backyard to a 6,000-square-foot warehouse.

Their work, which can be found in residential homes and commercial venues, is inspired by the French Industrial Era, and the furniture is usually composed of steel and wood with a decorative twist. Greg Hankerson says he can create almost anything that’s needed in that style, from various types of tables in residential homes to retail fixtures and hostess stands.

“A lot of industrial furniture is really cold, but the French seem to add a little beauty to it,” Greg Hankerson says. “They add curves that softens it up, and people seem to gravitate towards it.”

Part of what’s rewarding to him is creating American-made furniture that will last. He said that he thinks America is taking the cheap route by having everything imported and having nothing to show for it.

Vintage Industrial“I found pieces that were built over 100 years ago, and they’re still just as good as the day they built them,” Greg Hankerson says. “They’re lasting; people are reselling them or giving them to their kids. I think that’s awesome rather than something that’s just going to break in a year.”

Greg has had many offers to manufacture outside of the country for pennies-on-the-dollar, but he says that’s not what he’s about – even if it means he makes more money.

“I really love American manufacturing,” Greg Hankerson says. “It’s giving us jobs, and I’m doing something that I believe in. That makes me feel good.”

Customers also have a hand in the finished product because most of their work is custom. Sim Hankerson says she respects the fact that people like to have some artistic control over the product they are buying.

“I’m sure a lot of people, especially women, go shopping and are like, ‘Oh, I wish it was like this or I wish it was that,” Sim Hankerson says. “We bring their wish into reality.”

The Hankerson’s credit their success to their passion and personal involvement in the company.

“We have so many hats,” Sim Hankerson says. “Whatever gaps need to be filled, we fill them, whether it’s in our positions or any of the guys’. We are owners who are not afraid to get our hands dirty.”

She says working with her life partner has also contributed to their success.

“We lift one another up when one is down and fill gaps not only for our employees but emotionally for ourselves as well.”

“It’s really, really nice to have a partner that you trust and that you know is there for you,” she adds. “Someone to be a great cheerleader and cheer you on to succeed.”

Greg Hankerson says the challenge now is trying to expand and keep the quality up as well. He says it seems that when companies get large, the quality tends to go down, and he has made a point to avoid that pitfall.

“We have made so much more product, and it’s difficult to keep the quality up and still put out the quantity,” Greg says. “But we are working hard at it and I think we are doing a pretty good job.”

For more information about Vintage Industrial, visit shop.retro.net or call (602) 330-1234.

Misgana Kebede Company - Accent Transportation Services - AZ Business Magazine Nov/Dec 2010

A Dream Becomes A Reality for Ethiopian-Born Small Business Owner Misgana Kebede

Misgana Kebede
Company: Accent Transportation Services
Title: Owner | Est.: 2008
Web: www.transaccent.com

In May 2008, during the roughest stretch of the recession, a husband-and-wife team made a bold decision to start their own transportation business. Misgana Kebede and his wife, Bilen, started Accent Transportation Services, which specializes in executive car service around the Phoenix area.

Kebede moved to the U.S. from Ethiopia and was drawn to the tourism industry early on. In fact, he worked at various hotels and theme parks after high school and during college. Kebede eventually earned degrees in finance and logistics, transportation and supply chain management.

Prior to the creation of Accent Transportation Services, Kebede was working for Honeywell Aerospace in the supply chain department. Although he was learning a lot about the business, Kebede realized he wanted something more than to work in a cubicle.

“I had the dream of becoming a business owner, and a desire to serve others from the heart,” Kebede says.

When Kebede first started his business, the transportation industry was being hit hard by the economic downturn.
Companies were cutting down on travel costs, and car and limo services weren’t in demand. Despite the challenges, Accent Transportation managed to stand out to clients. Accent Transportation gains most of its business from repeat customers, and has grown from one vehicle to a seven-vehicle fleet within two years.

“Building a repeat customer base tells us we’re doing something right,” Kebede says. “Seventy to 75 percent of our business is repeat customers.”

Accent Transportation retains its customers because it continually focuses on improving the level of service it provides. It offers easy, online registration and account management. Customers can choose from Lincoln sedans, SUVs, stretch limos and a mini-coach. Kebede also emphasizes the importance of being on time.

Another major part of customer retention is that Kebede’s employees have excellent customer service skills. When looking to hire new employees, Kebede looks for people who already have spent time working in the hospitality business.

“If you know how to serve people, anything else can be learned,” Kebede says.

Kebede knows that building a business from the ground up is especially hard right now, but he is committed to his work.

“The first and foremost thing is to have a passion for what you do,” Kebede says. “Plan your days, weeks and months. Think about what will grow your business, not just what will help you get by.”

Arizona Business Magazine Nov/Dec 2010