MEET JO HARAMIS Successful Entrepreneur and Inspirational Leader
J o Haramis has been a successful entrepreneur for over 40 years. Let that sink in, because only 4 percent of businesses will make it past 10 years in business. Jo has had not one, not two, but three such businesses — including two that are still thriving. One she sold and one that she still leads — Floors, Decors and More. Given her track record, I thought it wise to sit down and talk with her for insight into how to build a great business. Floors, Decors and More opened in 1986 under a different name. Jo is a general contractor, designer, and project coordinator for both residential and commercial buildings. She talks about working with clients and taking them “from studs to stunning.” Other than brand-new construction, she does it all. She opened her business so that anyone — no matter what their budget is — could have access to design and contracting help. To have a vibrant business for 22 years is impressive; it’s even more impressive that it’s in a male-dominated field. I asked Jo what she did to gain credibility with people who might not be expecting her in that role. “I had to prove myself by bringing them repeat business, and when I was asked a question, knowing the right answer. Some of the guys tried to ask me questions to catch me, but when I knew why something would or would not work, they stopped asking. Now I get calls from my vendors all the time asking me questions. I’m called the ‘go-to gal’ by a few, and they want my opinion. “When I was in high school, I was an interior design art student. In college at NY Tech in Westbury, that wasn’t an offering, so I majored in architectural and interior design. Out of college, I joined a national design firm for nine years, and they had a great training program. They would bring in successful professionals with experience in draperies, flooring, sales, and all sorts of topics. I learned as much as I could. When they exited the business, I started my own with clients who were left behind. “To this day, I keep trying to learn. My vendors often have classes about new products and new techniques. I have gone to them all so I can be the most knowledgeable person in the room.”
like my family. If I’m in a store and I see something that will work for a client, even one I’m not currently working with, I will pick it up and drop it off for them. I go above and beyond. I want my clients to feel like they’ve been treated as people. The personal touch is the best thing. And not many people do it.” One of the things I’ve learned from Jo over the three years I’ve known her is how to be better at networking. I asked her how she started networking and what her advice is to be successful in it.
“I had a storefront until 2009. In 2004, one of my vendors told me I needed to start networking. He warned me that the market would crash and I needed to have a network to back me up in bad times. He told me to join my local chamber of commerce, so I joined the Huntington Chamber and started figuring it out. “Soon I realized I could make more money being out networking for the business than paying for a storefront and hoping people would stop in. I closed it as soon as my lease would let me. I’ve never regretted it or looked back. “My top lesson in networking is to not over-network. You could go to five networking events a day and that won’t help you. When I started to network, I went to everything until I found where I belonged. Then I started picking and choosing. I gave up others and stuck with the ones that were in my realm. Typically around August or September of each year, I look at everything I do and decide if I’m staying or going. “I make sure I’m around other experienced networkers. The ones who are real networkers — not just the takers. And certainly not around anyone who just shoves a business card in your face. In networking, I find that the way it works is when I go out of my way to help someone. People don’t believe you would do that for them.” Jo is one of my personal inspirations for my business. She’s built multiple successful businesses and is equally — and more importantly — successful in life. She’s the proud mom of two daughters, “Yaya” (grandmother in Greek) to four, and married to the love of her life for 39 years. Oh, and she has a small flock of chickens, all of which are individually named, which is just cool.
I asked for one secret to her success and she gave me two.
“Of course, you have to know your product, service, the market, costing, and all those things. But beyond that, pay attention to the people who do the front-line work for you — the face of your business. For me, it’s my installers. I make sure I have the right ones who will take care of my clients right. It’s taken me years to get the ones that I have now, but it’s been worth it.
“Second, be persistent. There are slow times and busy times, and you have to keep doing everything even when things are bad or good. My clients become
To contact Jo, email her at email@example.com or call 631-470-3544. You can check out her website at floorsdecorsandmore.com.
On August 8, I learned that Jerry Rotando, featured in our June 2018 newsletter, had passed away. All of us send our heartfelt condolences to Jerry’s family. He was a devoted husband, father, and friend. I am glad that I was able to work with Jerry and am grateful for all that I learned from him. May his memory be a blessing to all who knew and loved him.
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