Christopher P. Ramey
Christopher P. Ramey, President The Home Trust International, Inc. and Affluent Insights
The Home Trust (THT): What first compelled you to enter business?
Chris Ramey (CPR): I’ve always been intrigued with design, wealth and luxury. One of my father’s closest friends was an architect and for a long time I wanted to be an architect.
Wealth intrigued me because my father was chief of aviation for a Fortune 100 company. He was responsible for their aircraft and reported directly to the CEO. My Saturdays were often spent at the airport. Although we flew often, it wasn’t until my sophomore year at University of Miami that I flew on a commercial airline. Flying on business jets wasn’t a luxury. It’s just what Dad did.
THT: What inspires you and who has most influenced you?
CPR: Learning, creativity, helping others and, of course, my family inspire me. I was blessed with two wonderful parents who inspired me every day of their lives. There were four boys in the family; we were competitive and highly disciplined. All four of us remain close. My wife and I have been married for almost 40 years. We have two wonderful children and two gorgeous grandchildren. I still learn from my children and wife every day.
In looking back, we were highly influenced by Mr. George Love. He owned Consolidation Coal and was CEO of Chrysler. My father reported to Mr. Love. We were allowed on the company planes/jets any time Mr. Love was flying. My dad served Mr. Love and Mr. Love reciprocated by taking care of my father. They taught me that loyalty is a core value for successful individuals. Sadly, a value that seems to be dwindling.
Those who possess a brilliant mind inspire me. J. Robert Taglairino (Tag), president of Black Label Marketing, has been my mentor and friend for almost a decade. He possesses a brilliant mind. Ditto for Ron Kurtz, president of American Affluence Research Center. Today’s changing market requires more brilliant minds. We live in a consumer-centric world; brand entitlement is dead. Those who possess a great mind intuitively get it; whereas others don’t understand. It’s fair to say that every Home Trust International partner has a great mind. It’s integral to our criteria.
THT: What is the best advice you ever received?
CPR: My father, in particular, found lessons to teach in most experiences. Mother and Father taught us to be lifelong learners. I’ve learned to love reading, learning and teaching. I’d like to think a ‘pearl of wisdom’ from every book I’ve ever read sticks with me. I hope that I’ve taught my children the lessons my parents taught me.
To those points, I have tried to live a balanced life, not be judgmental, to be loyal and to help others.
THT: Is there a common thread that runs through all great products?
CPR: Certain products and spaces have a soul or, as the French say ‘je ne sais quoi.’ That’s something Richard Abbott from Paris Ceramics taught me. You see it once you understand it. We work very hard to ensure The Home Trust members and their products/services have a soul.
To that point, every great Interior Designer has a unique point of view. You’ll see it when you look at their portfolios. When I’m asked how to choose an Interior Designer the answer is easy; find someone who’s design aesthetic resonates with you. Most of The Home Trust’s Interior Designers routinely accept commissions from outside their geographic market.
THT: In what ways has your company or industry changed over the years?
CPR: The Home Trust International is a network orchestrator; we connect best prospects with best resources. Our mission to serve those who appreciate the finest products and services for their homes has never changed. Remember, the entire concept of ‘technology platforms’ didn’t exist until a few years ago. There’s always resistance when people don’t understand what you do because it’s not been done before. Fortunately there are intelligent people who are advancers and visionaries who get it immediately. And, yes, there are some who are so independent and stuck in the past that they’ll never get it. We live in a world where many successful entrepreneurs’ independence is becoming isolation – they just don’t know it.
We’ve been called everything from a ‘Secret Society’ and ‘Talent Agency’ to ‘Harrods for the Home’ and a ‘Design Center.’ The Business Observer called us ‘Angie’s List for the Wealthy.’ But it’s really much simpler. The Home Trust is a group of highly talented individuals and companies in design and shelter who have integrity, and feel comfortable referring others who’s values match their values. Research tells us that being a resource beyond one’s own skill-set is important to high net worth individuals.
Those who are affluent appreciate what we do because the world is full of poseurs. We make managing your home easier. The Home Trust provides resources who possess integrity and talent without question. We have a higher level of responsibility to our clients and to each other. Perhaps I should add that we decline over half of the firms interested in joining The Home Trust; our standards are very high.
THT: Do you have a favorite book or author?
CPT: There are so many brilliant authors. I’d probably start with Ed DeBono, Clotaire Rapaille, Lewis Schiff, Noel Kapferer, Michel Chevalier and Uche Okonkwo.
THT: Do you have a favorite city or place you like to travel?
CPT: Europe and most certainly Italy. Of course I enjoy visiting my children in New York City and San Francisco. It’s always nice to return home to Pittsburgh too.
THT: When you’re not working, where are you most likely to be found?
CPT: I thrive on work.
THT: What is your favorite object that reflects extraordinary design and what makes a room?
CPR: I value simplicity and grace. Some things ‘sing’ and some don’t. It’s visceral.
THT: What makes a great organization?
CPR: A great organization fills a void and then blends its mission with shared values. Today, leveraging technology is essential to all great organizations. Everyone profits and grows in a great organization.
THT: Why The Home Trust International?
CPT: I’d like to think we define a great organization. Marketing is essential in design. At the same time, collaborations have become a pillar of luxury and growth. The Home Trust International does both.
Although there is a human need to interact with others, networking as we knew it five years ago is changing. With few exceptions, no one can shake enough hands to grow their business in a substantial manner. And it’s more challenging in the luxury design/shelter categories because affluent clients likely have more than one home.
The buzz a decade ago was ‘time is currency’ to high net worth individuals. That is true for most everyone today. The Home Trust International is the one legitimate resource in the luxury segment that is driven by talent and values – not money.
THT: Anything else you’d like to share with us?
CPR: My gratitude to all who have helped us succeed. And, of course, gratitude to every member in The Home Trust International. One need only look at the images on The Home Trust International site to see the extraordinary talent of the members.
Chris Ramey is one the most quoted authorities in the luxury segment. He specializes in helping service providers, retailers and manufacturers understand and penetrate premium and luxury markets. He is a highly sought-after professional speaker and consultant. Ramey is president of The Home Trust International. His consultancy is Affluent Insights.
Ramey started The Home Trust International to serve as a vetted resource for high net worth families and the design and shelter resources that serve them.
Ramey’s list of clients have included many of the world’s most iconic luxury brands ranging from Ferretti Yachts, Bentley and Lamborghini to Silversea, The Ritz-Carlton, Mandarin Oriental, Northern Trust and many dozens more .
Ramey speaks on a wide range of topics across many categories; the common thread is loyalty, selling luxury and premium products to high net worth families. He’s spoken for Institut Supérieur de Luxe Paris, Politecnico di Milano, Asomercadeo in Colombia and LUXE Corp in Paris, Steinway, Luxury Portfolio as well as dozens of other organizations.
Ramey is an active consultant; he sits on the Retailwire.com ‘Brain Trust Panel’ and he has also earned the “Leadership–Top 5%” appellation from Gerson-Lehrman Group for his work with private equity firms investing in home furnishings companies. Ramey has been a columnist for Hearst Business Publications’ ‘Floor Covering Weekly’ for over eight years.
Ramey’s business experience includes past president of The Luxury Marketing Council Miami and The Luxury Marketing Council Palm Beach where he grew his chapters to be the second largest in the world. He is also the former president of International Design Guild, where he grew the organization from 15 showrooms to over 95 showrooms. Ramey is also the founder and former president of Savvi Formalwear, where he grew the organization to over 400 stores.
Ramey and his wife are originally from Pittsburgh, Pa and they reside in Palm Beach County, Florida.