After fleeing Cuba and starting a successful furniture business in the United States, Esteban Grafton's 'American Dream' nearly became a nightmare.
Grafton Furniture, the Miami-based business Esteban founded, has been around since 1964. The company's now run by his son Steve Grafton who, in turn, is also grooming his son, Steven, to eventually take over. But business isn't typically kind to third-generation companies and Grafton's no exception: With no real leadership structure in place, Steve's had a hard time giving up day-to-day control and it's not only strained his relationship with his staff and his son, it's affected the bottomline. When the economy turned in 2009, the business' fortunes spiraled further, forcing Grafton into debt just to keep its doors open.
Enter Marcus Lemonis. In 2015, The Profit visited Grafton Furniture and found a company in chaos: manufacturing was rushed to meet client demand; there was no clear production process; and communication among the staff was poor. To make matters worse, Grafton's warehouse and equipment were also showing signs of extreme wear and the quality of the furniture was suffering as a result.
Despite all of these problems, Marcus saw value in the high-end furniture designs and clientele, and decided to invest, taking on Grafton's massive debt load. He quickly worked to overhaul Grafton's aging infrastructure and modernize the company. He reconfigured the warehouse so there was a flow to it, creating a dedicated room for each part of the manufacturing process and brought in new equipment to cut down on man-power hours. Overall, these changes had a net effect of eliminating mistakes, increasing delivery times and boosting the bottom-line.
Marcus' swift action helped pull Grafton out of a disastrous financial nosedive, but his greatest accomplishment had nothing to do with product and everything to do with Grafton's family bonds. By placing himself between the elder, micromanaging Steve and frustrated son Steven, Marcus was able to set up a chain of command and a succession plan for Steven. The young Grafton's now been put in charge of the manufacturing process and quality of the furniture.
With Marcus onboard giving crucial guidance, Grafton's business has grown by more than half in one year since his investment and is now on track to exceed that figure this year. By partnering the company with Pacific Hospitality, another furniture company featured on The Profit, he was able to extend its reach and bolster profits. Plus, through the addition of an in-house designer and production manager, Marcus has ensured Grafton's furniture will appeal to a wide range of budgets while maintaining a level of quality.
Esteban, the original founder, is no longer with the company -- he's since passed away. But his dream of keeping Grafton in the family now seems like a reality as the company's clearly on the path to survive another generation and pass successfully into Steven's hands.
It's no wonder Steve Grafton describes Marcus as "the dream partner."