The Home Trust International (HTI): What compelled you to enter floor coverings?
Brett Hemphill (BH): I graduated from USC in 1988. My brother’s fraternity advisor, Joe Steele, at William & Mary moved the carpet and rug portion of his furniture business into its own separate business in a dedicated building.
HTI: Who has been the strongest influence on your career and why?
BH: Many. My dad and grandfather for sure. They owned shoe stores in Southern California. I had retail in my blood. And Joe Steele certainly gave me a great opportunity allowing me to run his start-up business. I had a lot of responsibility including buying, payroll, accounts payable and accounts receivable. Thus, when it came my time to start my own business 2500 miles away I was able to hit the ground running.
HTI: If you could have told your 20-year-old self-one thing, what would it have been?
BH: Don’t go into retail. They told me that in business school at USC. Clearly, I did not listen. Seriously, the best thing you can do for your business is volunteer in and around your community. You will make life long friends that are great clients and will refer their friends to you as well. .
HTI: Please tell us about your family and your personal life.
BH: Married to Cherie who also works in the showroom. Two teenage boys. We are pretty busy with everyone’s commitments. I like competitive sailing. I started as a kid, was on the college sailing team, taught sailing one Summer and continue to enjoy it.
HTI: What is the best advice you have received and who was it from?
BH: My dad. I was tossing around business name ideas. He said that Hemphill’s Shoes had been a part of the Southern California retail landscape for over 50 years. Take advantage of the name recognition. Many think that this is a multi-generational business because of it.
HTI: Is there a common thread that runs through all great products?
BH: We only sell things that we would install in our own homes. Thus, wool products are a big thing for us. And wood flooring that is made in the USA.
HTI: Do you prefer the country or the city?
BH: Both. I would prefer and live in a small city. I like the convenience of a city. I like the pace and openess outside the concrete jungle for a break.
HTI: What recent project or transaction are you most proud of?
BH: We finished a major wood floor project for a client that has worked with us for years. She had a lot of anxiety. Her dog was diagnosed with late stage cancer the night before we were to begin the job. We cancelled the project for a few weeks and we walked her through it. She is super happy.
HTI: In what ways has the floor covering industry changed over the years?
BH: No more paper maps / Thomas Guides. My car tells me how to get there and knows where I need to go based on my calendar on the phone. No more tape measures. We use lasers. We use software for layouts.
HTI: The one thing I’ve had forever is:
HTI: What do you miss the most?
BH: Having my dad work with me.
HTI: What is your favorite object that reflects extraordinary design?
BH: Tesla Model 3. I love cars and this one is really cutting edge. Plus, I don’t like the sky-high gas prices in California.
HTI: What makes a room sing?
HTI: What place most inspires you?
WP: New Zealand
HTI: Do you have a favorite author or artist?
BH: John Grisham books are great. I like a wide variety of music. Country, classic rock, 80’s. Just no opera.
HTI: Do you have a favorite museum?
BH: Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. I like cars.
HTI: What is your favorite brand?
BH: Apple. Great products, customer service and branding.
HTI: When you’re not working where are you most likely to be found?
BH: Sailing or traveling with family.
HTI: What makes a great organization?
BH: Teamwork with everyone contributing.
HTI: Why The Home Trust?
BH: Branding and the leadership team.
HTI: If you weren’t in flooring, what would you be doing?
BH: Commercial real estate or financial planning
HTI: Who is on your personal ‘Board of Directors?’
BH: My wife.
HTI: Thank you Brett.