Darla King founded King Business Interiors in 1998 on the principle of delivering customer service that exceeds clients' expectations.
As a woman-owned commercial furnishings and flooring company serving Greater Central Ohio, King is also a big believer in sustainability and developed entire line of “green” workspace solutions for its clients. She also created an environmentally friendly program called “Connecting the Dots,” which collects reusable furniture from clients and distributes them to nonprofit and charitable organizations in need.
King was named one of 2010 Smart Leader honorees by Smart Business and Blue Technologies. We asked her how she overcomes challenges, innovates and gives back to the community.
Give us an example of a business challenge you and/or your organization faced, as well as how you overcame it.
Our big challenge was….getting rid of used furniture … how to sell it, move it or donate it so it will not take up space in our warehouse/distribution center. This is very common for furniture dealers, I have found, from our industry association friends. Do we start a separate retail operation? It did not fit our daily business model working business to business for our furniture sales.
We were dealing with bulk amounts – 50 used private offices, 100 stack chairs, 90 tables, 450 task chair, etc.….they take up space and don’t all stack well. When trying to sell them through an outlet store it was time consuming, personal expense waiting for traffic, and customers just needed one or two – not 50 or 100 units.
After having the opportunity to serve on a local non-profit board, I realized the less than desirable office environments they were working within and saw a solution to both problems. We have an abundance of furnishings and they need better furnishings. We started the “Connecting the Dots” Program – we simply connect the needy organizations with the excess furnishings we have and make all parties happy. Our contribution is to understand their needs, design the space, deliver the product and make it happen. We have made so many organizations look more professional, become more productive and feel much better about their surroundings!
In what ways are you an innovative leader, and how does your organization employ innovation to be on the leading edge?
An innovative leader, for me, it is putting myself in our employee’s shoes and think what they would need and what can I offer. Sometimes I feel my role is the hostess or problem solver. We have several young people starting families as they are a part of our company family, and this is so important to us and to them. Kids grow up fast and we like to say “Don’t miss a ball game”…get out of work at whatever time you need to. They won’t rewind the tape. Our parents are very active with their kids including coaching their teams. Kids come first around here…we love to watch them grow and are very family focused. We are after all, a family business, our son, Chris and our daughter, Chelsea work with my husband and I here at King. Several of our kids come to work during breaks or if they are slightly ill and need to stay home. Most of our employees have access from their home computers as if they were sitting at their desk at work…so they can be present if they need to be for the children. Is that innovative? I don’t know – but it is part of our culture here.
How do you make a significant impact on the community and regional economy?
We feel our company makes the strongest impact on our community by with our “Connecting the Dots” Program. It is rewarding to see how we can impact the lives and work places of so many wonderful people. They are offering so many needed services through the nonprofits and charities in our area that if make sense to support them in their endeavors. Often times we will get a request for something and the very next week it becomes available for donation. We joke about the coincidences, but they happen as we put the request out there in the universe!
Our program also allows us to share a Green Story – by the reuse of these items we avoid adding them to the landfills. We have been tracking the tons of furniture over the years that we have placed.
Hopefully this is making a small impact on our community and region. I know for a fact it is helping our local nonprofits and charities do better things with their money to assist their clients and support their staff needs. It is a win-win for all involved.
How to reach: King Business Interiors, http://www.kbiinc.com/
The Smart Leaders class of 2010
In August, 2010, Smart Business and Blue Technologies recognized 14 business leaders for their commitment to business excellence and the impact their organizations make on the regional community. Treated to a keynote address by TechColumbus CEO Ted Ford, these 14 leaders composed the honor roll:
- Michelle Adams, president, Prism Marketing
- Jeff Brock, general manager, The Loth Co.
- Tom Dailey, president, 2Checkout.com
- Jennifer Griffith, president, Commerce National Bank
- Darla King, owner and president, King Business Interiors
- Elizabeth Lessner, CEO, Betty’s Family of Restaurants
- Rick Milenthal, president, Engauge
- Michelle Mills, CEO, St. Stephen’s Community House
- Janis Mitchell, founder, president and CEO, Precise Resource
- Neil Mortine, president and CEO, Fahlgren Inc.
- Debra Penzone, president, Charles Penzone Family of Salons
- Joel Pizzuti, president, The Pizzuti Cos.
- Bea Wolper, partner, Emens & Wolper Law Firm
- Eric Zimmer, CEO, Tipping Point Renewable Energy