Greg Alexander

A hands-on approach

Provident Bank, September 2005

In business, it’s necessary sometimes to make sacrifices on the road to success. Taking a local business to the national and international level sometimes requires that company leaders assume different roles and let go of some of the day-to-day operations. However, for one local business, the leaders have instead retained an active role in the business, even as the company continues to grow and become a major player in the furniture manufacturer sector.

Baltimore-based David Edward Company, a manufacturer of upscale contract and custom furniture, is a second-generation business now run by three brothers. The firm has done local work for Oriole Park at Camden Yards, St. John’s College and University of Maryland, Baltimore, as well as national work for such clients as the Federal Reserve Board, the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Boston and several hotels, restaurants and retailers. Along the way to national prominence, however, the brothers have remained resolutely involved in the company.

“We are all very active in the daily operations of the company,” says Gregory Pitts, one of the owners and 16-year veteran of the family business. “You won’t find us spending time playing golf or going to Florida. We’re very passionate about the business.” Gregory points to the company’s mantra started by his father – “Unconditional positive regard for the individual” – as the secret to staying focused on the customer. “We have a sign at our entrance with that saying, which is corporate slang for ‘love.’ We focus on treating our employees, vendors and customers with love.” This love, he says, accounts for the company’s low employee turnover, about 1 to 2 percent. “Instead of just handing new employees a company manual, we use camaraderie as a training tool,” he adds.

Gregory says that the company, which manufacturers everything from upholstered chairs to tables, executive chairs, benches and office furniture, aims to expand further into the educational sector. In the past, David Edwards has worked with such highly-regarded schools as Virginia Tech, Columbia University, Georgetown University and Harvard University’s Law School. “We’ve also partnered with HDR, one of the largest and best healthcare architectural design firms, to expand our healthcare furniture business.”

The company, which utilizes two in-house designers, as well as famed designer Michael Graves, has two manufacturing facilities in Baltimore and Pennsylvania and approximately 300,000 square feet of manufacturing space. Despite its size, David Pitts, company president, says that the company remains a family business. “Each one of us has our own specialty, and we remain very loyal to our vendors. We don’t change vendors unless it’s absolutely necessary.” One such change occurred last year with the company’s choice of banks.

While the company utilized Provident Bank for its payroll and local checking matters, a Delaware-based bank handled the majority of the commercial banking. David says that the company wanted to streamline the banking, so they chose to move all accounts to Provident. “It’s much easier having everything with Provident,” says company CFO Adam Feuerstein, who adds that he prefers the personalized service he receives from Provident. “I like that they are regional. In fact, Emil Keller, a vice president at Provident, stopped by the office the other day just to drop off some paperwork and sit down to talk. He is very attentive, and whenever we have any issues, he is very prompt in responding.” Feuerstein also utilizes Provident’s technology, such as electronic payments for health claims and benefits and 401 (k) processing. “Anything to help make business easier is a good thing,” he says.

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