Jonathan Hakakian, of J&S Designer Flooring in Morristown, lovingly discussed his parents, the business they started nearly 32 years ago and the business practices that keep customers coming back, in a phone interview with The Jewish Link.
His parents, Sima and Javid Hakakian, separately came to this country from Iran in the late 1970s, both looking for the American dream. Their philosophy that if you “do good things, good things will follow,” ultimately led them to start a flooring and design center. The couple started a rug business in 1989 in the basement of their home in Parsippany. Through hard work and perseverance, they were able to move into a 20,000 square foot facility in 2000 in the current location.
“The growth since then has been due in large part to our really strong ‘lifers,’ employees who have been with us from 10 to 27 years,” Hakakian noted fondly. When asked why he thinks they have stayed so long, he said it is likely because of “the business culture, the family feel, my father’s vision to do right by everyone.”
The company has 30 to 40 employees, said Hakakian, “but it’s really a lot of brothers and sisters.”
According to Hakakian, the showroom, located at 12 Mt. Kemble Avenue in Morristown, features beautiful wall-to-wall installed carpet; areas rugs, including traditional Persian and more contemporary modern rugs; and a curated collection of hardwood and vinyl. There is also a section of the showroom for tradespeople that includes fabric.
Hakakian remarked that “my Mom focuses on matching trends with clientele,” and she is sought out for her knowledge in this area.
The company is price competitive, Hakakian feels, “because we do our own importing in bulk. People tend to think that because we have a large staff and are a small business that we are costly, but that’s not the case.”
Like all small businesses, the coronavirus has affected the way the company operates. “COVID has pushed the entire industry to have a stronger online presence. We never did virtual walk-throughs, but now we have initial virtual sessions, and we make a lot of use of Zoom and FaceTime. We had to add additional support roles to help with our staggered schedules,” Hakakian said.
J&S Designer Flooring, according to Hakakian, “has become a destination for anyone moving to New Jersey or looking to upgrade their floors,” and that, he believes, is “because we focus so much on customer service.”
The majority of clients live in Morris and Essex counties, eastern Pennsylvania, and parts of New York State and Manhattan. “We are looking to take it further,” he said.
Hakakian feels that the company’s longevity is a direct result of his parents’ business acumen, and the fact that it is a “small business focused on the customer and community. Customers want someone they can trust and who gives back to the community. We are always engaged with the local charities and nonprofits. Last year we led Design For A Difference and renovated a classroom at the Neighborhood House in Morristown. And this past summer we worked with several religious organizations to update their interiors. The culture of our business is very family and community friendly.”
He believes another plus for customers is that “the staff has been here for decades. We have multiple generations of clients in families, or families who come to us whenever they move. People like knowing that the same people will be here for them.”
Overall, it is the warmth of his parents, and the way they treat their staff and clients, that keeps customers coming back, Hakakian believes. “My father has trouble not hugging people during COVID,” he shared. “That’s the way my parents do business.”