Name & Surname: Brandi Susewitz
Strengths: New Business Development, Sales
Country: United States
Industry: e-Commerce/Commercial office furniture
Favorite quote: “If I had asked my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.” – Henry Ford
Who is Brandi Susewitz?
Hello! My name is Brandi, and I have been in the office furniture industry for over twenty years.
On March 16th, 2020, most of the United States was placed into a mandatory shelter-in-place due to Covid-19. Much like many people around the world, my husband (who is also in the office furniture industry) and I were impacted financially by the shelter-in-place. Our income had been slashed by fifty percent, and then the very next month my husband was laid off. I spent the next two weeks in bed filled with fear and anxiety. I was so worried that I wouldn’t have an industry to work in any longer. After all, no one was buying NEW office furniture and the projects that I had in my pipeline had been put on hold or cancelled. I considered changing my profession altogether, but what was really concerning me was the pre-owned office furniture market. See, I had just read an article where I learned that 17 BILLION POUNDS of office furniture ends up in our landfills each year and now with the reality of the pandemic, I could see that number getting much larger. So I started spending my days doing research and found that, in the year 2020, there was no website where you could buy and sell your used office furniture, add to cart checkout with delivery/installation option. I had been in the office furniture industry for a long time and knew that the used office furniture industry was broken. I knew in my heart that now would be a perfect time to try to fix the industry, and try to make it easier for people to buy and sell their unwanted office furniture. Oh, and then there was the harsh reality that I needed to figure out a way to earn money.
In my years of working in the office furniture industry, I found myself alongside dozens of facility managers and project managers running into the same problem: relocating an entire office space with no set plan for the furniture that they didn’t plan to bring with them. Here’s an all too common scenario: Laura, the facilities manager at Company Co., is told by management that the company will be relocating to a new facility in nine months and won’t be bringing any of their office furniture. The thing is, the furniture is only seven years old (that’s brand-spankin’ new). Over the next several months, most of Laura’s time is spent planning for the new building, and the next thing she knows, she has the utmost responsibility of vacating the office space within a month and still doesn’t have a plan for the used furniture. Laura thinks about posting the furniture on Craigslist or eBay, but soon realizes it’s not the right method. She calls a used office furniture broker to “buy” the furniture, but because she waited until the last minute, there wasn’t an adequate amount of time to properly market the furniture. The broker ends up charging thousands of dollars in labor to remove the office furniture from the building, and most of it ends up in a landfill since the broker can’t find a buyer either. In some cases, the broker does end up finding a buyer for the office furniture and makes a huge profit on it, with this information slipping by the facilities manager. When clearing office space, clients tend to be reactive instead of proactive. They end up being at the mercy of the broker and their vacate date.
On June 12th 2020, I woke up with a mission. To create the first online marketplace for companies to buy and sell their pre-owned office furniture. Because of the pandemic, I actually had the time and patience needed to invest in the research, preparation and logistics. It’s been a huge undertaking, and I am so thankful to everyone who helped me build the marketplace; especially my husband, Eric, who always supports every crazy idea I have. I couldn’t have done any of this without him and our morning business meetings, A.K.A. morning 10k step dog walk around our neighborhood!
In closing, I’d like to challenge each and every one of you to first consider looking at existing furniture inventories that could possibly fulfill your requirement instead of purchasing brand new. Commercial brand furniture is not “bic lighter” furniture, it’s solid and it’s made to last. Remember those old Steelcase metal desks? Because of this fact, the life cycle of commercial-grade office furniture should easily be one that could be extended with a little refinishing work if needed.
What are some of your biggest achievements throughout your journey?
Honestly, that I’ve designed a life where I have a great work/life balance
What are 3 business principles that are of core value to you?
Integrity, honesty and concern for others
What is the hardest part of being an entrepreneur?
The highs and lows
How do you stand out in this digital world?
I’ve created the first online marketplace for people to buy and sell their used office furniture, add to cart checkout with a delivery/installation option. Other used office furniture sites do not allow you to add to cart. You have to call for a quote and their sites aren’t even updated.
What was one of the biggest mistakes that you have made throughout your journey and what lesson did you learn from it?
There have been many of mistakes made early on in my career. That’s how I learned my best lessons by actually screwing up and then just not doing it again. It’s called trial and error!
What is your key to success?
What does success mean to you?
Success to me is creating a life that is worth living. The freedom to have flexibility to make sure you enjoy the important things in your life, like your kids and your family.