How Designs Direct preserved partnerships and paved a new path forward

By Sarah Dieckman, Marketing Communications Manager, Goering Center for Family and Private Business

At the onset of the pandemic, Designs Direct Creative Group established three priorities: preserving their culture, supporting their customers, and maintaining their most important partnerships.

To preserve their culture, their team emphasized the need for open, honest, and consistent communication. The company appointed a group of experienced, influential individuals to disseminate critical information amongst their teams. This group evolved into the company’s Senior Leadership Team, absorbing a significant amount of responsibility from the owners and playing a leading role in setting the company’s strategy and priorities. As lines of communication solidified, Designs Direct were mindful to preserve time for team building and social interaction, introducing weekly challenges and virtual happy hours.

“We shared the good, the bad, and the uncertain with our teams, customers, and employees,” shared Mitchell Heidrich, Partner. “We believe this transparent approach empowered all parties to face the uncertainty with a realistic, productive mindset, and work together, to find answers to the unknown, and come up with solutions to the challenges we were facing.”

Through the turbulent months of the early pandemic, owners and senior team members were in constant contact with many customers – emphasizing that they were committed to supporting them. The Designs Direct team adopted a flexible approach that allowed for adjustments to existing orders, delivery dates, and payment terms. In addition, the team sent care packages, including items for customers’ home offices and gifts for their children, to help facilitate the transition to remote office life. Due to widespread travel restrictions, Designs Direct invested in software and tools that enabled customers to digitally tour their showrooms and review new products. Once restrictions began to ease in the Fall of 2020, they rented and staged large, local facilities to host visiting customers. Staying connected with their vendors, suppliers, and partners was vital to the team – they held daily meetings and phone calls with their largest suppliers and manufacturing partners to ensure they had the cashflow to maintain appropriate staffing levels.

Moving forward, Designs Direct will maintain a flexible and balanced approach, allowing employees to decide if remote, office, or hybrid work is best for them. To accommodate the diverse working conditions, they redesigned their corporate headquarters, incorporating flexible workspaces and rotational desks for remote and office workers to join together in collaboration.

“A supportive company culture, strong customer relationships, and exceptional partners are all helpful when times are good, but they become necessities in times of uncertainty. Making investments in these areas will always pay dividends, but none more so than when you need your team, customers, and partners the most.”

Featured image: Mitchell Heidrich (Partner) of Designs Direct Creative Group

Designs Direct Creative Group is a Goering Center Core Member. The Goering Center is sharing this content as part of its 2021 Family and Private Business Awards celebration.

About Designs Direct Creative Group
Designs Direct Creative Group has been helping retailers grow home décor departments and sales since 2002. Headquartered in historic Main Strasse Village, Designs Direct develops merchandising programs, exclusive artwork, and custom home décor products for brick and mortar and online retailers. Designs Direct boasts one of the largest wholly owned libraries of artwork and imagery in the United States, adding more than 400 unique designs to their existing collection each week.

About the Goering Center for Family & Private Business
Established in 1989, the Goering Center serves more than 400 member companies, making it North America’s largest university-based educational non-profit center for family and private businesses. The Center’s mission is to nurture and educate family and private businesses to drive a vibrant economy. Affiliation with the Carl H. Lindner College of Business at the University of Cincinnati provides access to a vast resource of business programing and expertise. Goering Center members receive real-world insights that enlighten, strengthen and prolong family and private business success. For more information on the Center, participation and membership visit goering.uc.edu.