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Building Better Businesses with Steve Eschbach – Episode 91 featuring Phil Ramos

Thought furnishing a commercial or home office just meant desk, table and chairs only? Not so, and Phil Ramos, owner of Office Furniture Solutions, will let you know what else his business offers to accommodate the modern evolution of how we think of “office space”.

In this episode we will discuss how ‘Furniture Phil’ transitioned from employee to owner, and then dig into how he effected business improvement over a short period of time leading to growth.

Connect with Phil:

Steve Eschbach is founder and president of Eschbach Enterprises, Inc. (EE), a comprehensive business advisory firm focused on enhancing corporate value to take business owners to their next level of success. Through the various subsidiaries under the EE umbrella as well as the established affiliations/strategic partnerships he has established in his 40-plus years as a senior financial executive leader, Mr. Eschbach has the direct experience and/or knows subject matter professionals that enables business owners to continue to thrive. His companies over the years have represented both the sellers and buyers in dozens of business transactions over 40 years, ranging in size from under $100 thousand to over $15 billion, and in industries such as energy, technology, entertainment, healthcare management, retail and home services to name a few.

Building upon this, Mr. Eschbach is a published author, sought-after public speaker, audio and video podcast host at both the local and national levels and community leader – both past and present – on a number of community nonprofit boards and professional organizations. Mr. Eschbach holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from the University of Connecticut and a Master of Business Administration degree in Investment Finance from the University of Hartford. He has been a Chartered Financial Analyst since 1989 and is an Illinois licensed producer in life/health insurance as well real estate.

Connect with Steve Eschbach Website:


greetings of the day my fellow listeners

and welcome to another edition of

building better businesses I am your

host Steve ashbach I own a business here

in neille Illinois called trans World

business advisors I like to characterize

my business as helping business owners

realize their dreams and you can do it a

number of ways you could either do it by

exiting your business and receiving top

dollar you can do it by expanding your

business through acquisition maybe

acquiring another entity that’s either

up your alley or maybe sidebar to what

you’re doing uh thirdly and fourthly we

do franchise uh sales and we do

franchise development franchise sales

meaning if you are a uh business owner

is looking to acquire a franchise he can

help you there similarly if you are a

business owner and you’re looking to

franchise your operations we have a way

we can help you do that everything from

all the paperwork from franchise

disclosure documents to franchise

agreements to getting your place located

marketing Etc so that’s how I

characterize my business as uh helping

business owners realize your dreams

transor business advisers is the fastest

growing business broker brokerage firm

in the world we have about eight Offices

here in Chicagoland there’s well over

200 globally and uh we have been around

for 40 years and in Chicago land for the

better part of the last 10 and we’re

excited to be here a part of naville and

I’m delighted to have today a guest uh

one of my my uh referral networking

group Partners Phil Ramos he owns a

company called Office Furniture

Solutions and it’s a delight to have you

here hey Phil and he said it’s okay I

can call him Furniture Phil so I will

call you that to begin with we’ll go

back to Phil after that so Phil welcome

to the program and tell us a little bit

about the business you have here in

neille thank you Steve yes so I’m Phil

Ramos I own and operate Office Furniture

Solutions based in naville on Ogden


we Service uh we’re full full service

office furniture dealer we service

anything from a small business to a

medium-sized business and even home

offices with new use and refurbished

office furniture we’ve helped transform

thousands of offices uh across the

country uh not only do we work in the

Chicagoland area we also have some

national accounts uh our show rooms on

Ogden Avenue we have Interior Design

Services and space planning so it’s

really a uh a full spectrum of beginning

to end of your your space plan and

design and Furnishing your

office well it sounds like you do a

little bit more than uh than office

furniture and that’s good to know we’re

going to get more into that a little bit

more in the program here but uh tell us

a little bit about how you get started

with Office Furniture Solutions and uh

what got you involved in the in the

business that you’re in yeah so really

you know it’s uh kind of happened by

chance I uh

needed a job uh I I was working uh and

living in the city working restaurants

and different uh different things I was

young um and then U my mom and dad got

divorced and I needed uh to move back in

with my mom I moved back to the BBS um I

had sold cell phones uh for you know a

few years and was in sales so I went and

I got a job at at US Cellular they hired

me to run a store um and um I was

supposed to start like Tuesday Monday

the news came out and US Cellular was

was bought by uh Sprint and the guy

called me and said hey man I don’t know

if uh if you’re gonna you know I’d love

to have you here but I don’t know if

you’re going to have a job I don’t know

if I’m going to have a store uh so I had

applied at Office Furniture Solutions

and um I said you know what I’ll I’ll go

back for the interview and check it out

don’t know anything about office

furniture I didn’t know it was in

Industry I was 22 23 years old um and um

got the job and started in in sales and

loved it you know really loved the idea

what I did um loved the the fact that it

was sales but it was also I could be

creative and designing an office um and

and making a deal you know especially

when you got into the use it was always

like all right uh you know let’s let’s

see what what I can do for for a

customer within their budget and make it

look really nice um and um and so I

started there as a sales rep worked my

way up and uh grew the business hired a

designer put in some processes in place

that that didn’t exist and um ended up

having the opportunity to to to buy it

and um accomplished that dream that I

had of being a small business

so it sounds like you had a little bit

of a pivot in your uh earlier part of

your career to kind of introduce you to

the opportunity we’re going to talk a

little bit more about that shortly but

uh what I like to do with my uh guests

on my program is to kind of rewind the

video tape a little bit let’s go back to

your early childood and uh what were

your interest back then did you ever

think you would be owning an office

furniture store so what were your likes

dislikes when you were growing

up well I was into sports really big

into you know football mostly and

basketball um and um you know I was

uh always trying to to be out running

around um you know early on I didn’t

have too much you know Direction in

terms of what exactly I wanted to do I

was interested in business um I had some

uh uh you know some you know got into a

little bit of trouble early on and um

had to to deal with it as a kid kid um

you know 17-year-old you know with with

not too much going on and um but I knew

sales was something that I wanted to do

once I got into that um I knew it was

something that um if you could be honest

with people um and you know really

listen to them to see what they needed

um and have a good product that you

could be very successful um with or

without a degree u i i i didn’t go to

college or or anything like this but uh

I was able to just kind of learn from um

other small businesses I I didn’t really

believe that um I was

uh I didn’t know that I was going to own

an office furniture company I didn’t

even know those existed but uh I had

worked for other small businesses in the

past and really kind of liked that idea

of uh smaller tight-knit

family different you know owner you know

ownership of something that I had myself

and um having you know a closer

relationship with those employees that

you work

with so you’ve owned your business now I

think you said for eight years is that

right 2018 was uh so that’s six years

for Office Furniture Solutions um and um

I’ve had uh leading up to that so I I

worked for Office Furniture Solutions

prior so that’s been going on 11 years

so worked there for three years um and

then bought it uh in

2018 so tell us a little bit about how

your uh business has evolved since

you’ve owned it so I think I heard you

earlier on talk about you have an

interior designer which I think is

related to the office furniture I don’t

know if you do anything other than

Office Furniture Design but how has your

business evolved since you acquired it

uh a few years back so uh it sounds like

it it has expanded a little bit I would

imagine your business sales and profits

have expanded over time how has that

changed you in your ownership and how

you engage your team to get you to where

you are today sure um so early on you

know it was while I worked there we

brought in the designer um and started

to implement more of a design approach

to uh Furnishing an office um and um two

years ago I was able to uh purchase an

installation company or moving an

installation company excuse me so that

allowed us to have a little bit more

control over um the used product that we

brought in um on decommissions so you

know big thing you know we had to deal

with covid right so um there weren’t too

many new office projects going on um so

we had to be particular with the product

we were bringing in uh on a decommission

because all these you know now it’s

offices aren’t going in but offices are

people are leaving the office to go work

from home so we were able to capitalize

on um used office chairs so we had a lot

of really good used office chairs and uh

you it was like people that worked at an

office they knew that I sat in a

Steelcase chair or Herman Miller chair

and it was comfortable at home and now

I’m sitting at my dining room chair and

back hurts and so I I went on Facebook

Marketplace and just started you know

posting some of the chairs that we had

and um and that was where people were

looking for chairs they were looking at

a store but they weren’t sure I’m sure

that if the store was open right so they

didn’t know if yeah there’s a used

office furniture store but it’s co so

I’m going to go on Marketplace and and

they found us and that was a way that we

were able to keep our business going and

that was through the the decommission of

uh other offices that were closing down

so it became a uh Revenue source for us

to uh go out take down the furniture

recycle get rid of the old stuff that

nobody wants and then keep and clean up

and refurbish the stuff that people will

want the good chairs um and things like

that so um having that uh instulation

company were able to be uh a little bit

more uh

picky on what we bring in and have a

better inventory of used products for

for end users so you talked a little bit

about I think you have a a store

presence on Ogden Avenue here in neille

but sounds like you do some of your

sales on uh either social media Facebook

or whatever how has that evolved over

time I got to imagine that prior to

covid things were kind of like

traditional and then Co hit and you were

talking about uh some people were

getting a little conc concerned that the

dining room chair was not quite the

office chair environment that they have

started getting your business on

Facebook how has that now evolved are

you seeing that more of your business is

coming through online or social media or

Facebook do you have a lot of people

dropping into your physical store how

has that evolved over time and do you

see any different Trends going

forward yeah absolutely um it uh you

know Google was always a big driver and

it still is that people look for a

certain uh product and they might find

us um and come in I mean we really like

uh I mean e-commerce is nice and um you

know but when you’re dealing with office

chairs when you’re dealing with

something that you have to assemble to

then feel and sit in and and try you

really got to try it out and that’s

where our showroom comes into play um

it’s such a hassle if you buy a chair

online you put it together now you got

to send it back I got to take it apart I

I I really don’t even know if you know

we have a hard time ourselves taking

shairs apart and when we have to

refurbish them uh typical you

know work from home mom or or or a man

you know that that buys a couple chairs

you know for his office you know that

never took a chair

apart um now you got to take it apart to

try to send it back because it doesn’t

fit so so we like to have people come in

well people stop coming in as much

during covid and um and people still

will shop online and and and do that and

that’s that’s fine if it works for you

um but uh uh having people come into the

store is is important for us to try it

out u a lot of our chairs are ergonomic

they got different uh settings and

different uh functions that’ll fit

different Siz people you know if you’re

6 foot three you’re not going to sit in

the same the same type of chair and be

comfortable with somebody who’s 5 foot n

and um so are chairs allowed for that

different type of body type then you

could come in and try it so they’ve um

found us now you know when you think of

use with the explosion of you know it

used to be Craigslist people don’t

really go on there anymore but you know

Facebook Marketplace um you

know offer up uh you know when you’re

dealing in used um it’s it’s really

where people are looking and I’ve met

different business owners that are you

know buying stuff for some big

well-known uh businesses out there that

have ads on TV and they’re you know

they’re looking to save a few dollars so

they’re looking for a used cubicle on

Marketplace they’re looking for a used

chair and I’ve been able to take like

you know a couple chairs that someone

might be looking for or something that I

post and turn it into uh whole office

designs and next thing you know it’s

it’s a client and it’s a lasting you

know long-term relationship for somebody

and um it’s really cool and maybe that

lends back to uh the

personability of uh you know it’s

Facebook it’s social media right but you

really are dealing with the real person

it’s actually my you know account and we

have a business account too but um I

think maybe that helps with uh people

knowing that they’re dealing with

somebody um and um they know who they

are versus uh you’re just calling a

company you don’t even know if they um

exist right so one of the things I’m

hearing from you too over the course of

your owning your store that you kind of

evolved to where you now have an

interior designer so that assists I’m

sure with your customers and what to buy

and where to put it in their shop and

then secondly I heard you say you have

an installation and delivery company

sounds like that was another add-on so

basically you’re expanding your

operations in related field

that enhance your office furniture

Solutions Mainstay is that kind of

correct yes yep yep that’s uh what we’re

doing and it’s allowed us to uh be able

to manage larger projects um and just

help customers be more satisfied you

know when uh when you have the

installation company when you know uh

something goes wrong with you know we’ve

had customers who

bought uh entire floors of furniture and

not passed inspection and um you know

and and that’s always an issue right

where it can happen um but luckily we’re

able to be um flexible and and fluid and

and and move uh their product their

product safe it came in it’s it’s ready

to you know go when they’re ready um but

to be able to do that for them and and

that product was you know the area was

designed very well because we spent time

in those consultations picking out the

finishes the Fabrics making sure they

coordinate with the floor uh the paint

on the walls art uh all this we can

really put into a complete package and

present to clients um and uh I think

that lent a very uh great buying

experience for for somebody who U wants

an office to to look well designed and

to be

really function um and efficient so it

sounds like you have a process so if a

brand new customer is coming in so there

you are at your desk and let’s say a new

customer comes in how do you go about

finding out what it is that’s going to

satisfy their needs so new customer

comes in let’s say it’s a brand new

multiple room office or something like

that how do you go through a a customer

introduction to eventually getting the

product to their to their new office how

does that go about well um sometimes

they’re dealing with an architect

sometimes they’re not if they if they

are dealing with an architect and we s

know some some good ones in the area um

you know if they’re working on a new

build a lot of times there’ll be a floor

plan of some sort uh customer will come

in um and let us know hey I have this

office it needs to be designed um X this

way uh The Architects did this with our

design and um we don’t know if we like

it um it’s just kind of a 2d space plan

you know maybe they like some aspects

about it maybe they don’t um we’ll sit

down with a with a free

consultation um either a sales rep and

the designer it’s just the designer uh

and listen to them listen to their needs

um take a look at that space plan if

they don’t have the space plan we go out

for free we measure uh we verify all the

measurements um and then find out how

they work uh what what it is that they

do listen to to what their needs are um

if they have a current office figure out

what the storage looks like uh find out

how their team works if they like to

collaborate do they need um more uh

huddle rooms where they get together

more common area places where uh people

get together to meet do they need more

privacy taller walls with their um with

their cubicles so we we just kind of

talk about all of that and and bring in

the lighting and um workflow uh into

account uh design it get a 2D and 3D

design we create renderings with our uh

software make it look real pretty so you

know what it is you’re getting in your

space so uh whether we take it to the

carpet and wall and art all all combined

or we’re just looking at furniture we

could really go a couple different ways

um and I like to present a couple

different options you know we we’re

creative not only in how we design the

space but also in how we present the

pricing package because we have the use

and we have uh a lot of different

vendors we can blend those together so

um if uh if we have to get aggressive

pricing we can do that sort of um save

customers money so I’m hearing a little

bit that you may do just more than

Furniture I heard carpet I heard

paintings I heard wall decoration is

that something that you do with

your we have Partners in in those fields

um as far as the the commercial carpet

and the the paint so uh sometimes it

helps our clients if we just put it on

one bill and uh but that’s usually going

through a subcontractor for that sort of

thing um but uh we have some really

great uh contractors that we work with

that specialize in commercial um and and

when do it our project management you

know side of things that team controls

it so you’re not dealing with you know

um trying to call the carpet guy and

then the furniture guy and then the

painter uh we sort of act as a GC so to

speak when when we C bring it in all

together our project management team

deals with that so the furniture guys

know when the carpet guys are coming

they know pain

right and uh and then everything kind of

goes together without a hitch right uh

so you’re sort of a One-Stop shop if you

will so and and I also think I heard you

say too it’s not just office building

it’s also home office too right yeah

yeah yeah home office we we work with

with the home office we’ll help design

it um we have uh you know some some nice

uh traditional Furniture if you’re

looking for that if you’re looking for

modern it’s really all the way uh you

know the whole Spectrum um a lot of what

we have is it’s commercial so you know

we’re not going to compete if you need

just like

a you know just a little small desk for

you know

a son or daughter you know we maybe we

have it maybe we don’t but a lot of what

we have there you know if they’re

growing out of it that sort of thing we

don’t have that um you know little very

small desks we we have some of that uh

but we’re really into the uh you know

somebody truly has a home office um

we’re going to design that and and yeah

and then chairs too you know everybody

needs a chair to sit in so absolutely

we’re always open so you and I are both

members of the naille area Chamber of

Commerce and uh we’re on a referral

Network team from your perspective Phil

what do you how do you view the naville

chamber helping you and helping others

in your business philosophy and your

business interaction what is the chamber

or how how being involved in the chamber

has helped you out over time the

chamber’s been great um I’ve uh been

able to develop some really nice

business relationships um friendships

I’ve met some really brilliant people um

that I don’t think I would have met had

I not um joined um and so it’s been uh

beneficial to me in that way um and and

of course you look at you know the we’re

networking so it’s about bringing in you

know sales right um also so I’ve been

able to acquire some customers I’ve been

able to uh become customers of some

really great uh businesses so that whole

networking has been great I I don’t

think I have not seen a chamber uh more

involved than what naville does um we

were able to uh before before I met you

we we were able to put on a uh

fundraiser for the alive Center that was

great um really fun it was like a an

office chair Olympics we called it and

it was a bunch of like uh you know relay

races and office chairs and and some

different things and we were able to

raise money for them and um and you see

a lot of that going on within the

chamber you know supporting nonprofit

supporting other businesses it’s uh it’s

really cool yeah one of the things I can

I can add that too is that the uh the

chamers there is a vital resource for

its business owner members but it does a

tremendous amount of work also for the

local area nonprofits and the other uh

that are not you know technically

businesses but there’s so much to offer

in nerville that you connect everything

together the nonprofits what’s available

in the community and then you and I as

business owners are able to take

advantage of all that we have there in

the in the area so that’s all good

absolutely yeah we’re approaching our

time limit here Phil and we did have a

lot to talk about here is there anything

that I may not have asked you or

something you may not have covered in

our conversation this

morning no I mean not not as it relates

to uh office furniture that I could

think of um you know it’s

uh something that uh is you know what is

been my passion for a lot of years and I

do other things but um when it comes to

work I have a really great team around

me uh that allows me to do what I do and

and get us to do what we do and support

uh support our customers so I think I

heard a vital word in that commentary

there you talked about a team so and you

can use team internally within your

business we can talk about a team

throughout the chamber so I think it’s

what I’m hearing you say is that

teamwork is essential and capitalize on

those that can assist you with what you

do and you know you can do the same by

by delegating stuff to others that can

kind kind of help you as well so I think

through your office uh your firm uh

Office Furniture Solutions as well as a

chamber there’s a way to develop a team

to help everyone be successful is that

correct yeah absolutely yeah definitely

so one last thing this is your turn to

tell us how can we find out more about

fill your business so give us everything

we need to know website phone email can

we contact you sure yeah so U uh check

out our our website is uh um you can find me on

LinkedIn Phil Ramos um you’ll find me

there we have uh our Facebook page

Office Furniture Solutions is uh also

somewhere you can find us in in on

Instagram or we have a Tik Tok also

um uh and it’s it’s office offs

Furniture Inc I think is what our Tik

Tac is or offs Furniture so uh yeah find

us anywhere on there uh love to connect

with other business owners in in

neille and um you know look forward to

meeting with you more Steve and sounds

good yeah absolutely absolutely so thank

you again Phil for your time we

appreciate you sharing your uh your your

business and life story it’s a f

fascinating story everyone needs office

furniture and don’t think office

furniture is just in your office

building you can also do it in your home

uh just to make your working environment

com comfortable just give Phil a call

he’ll help you out so I want to thank

everyone for joining us today on

building better businesses for another

episode here um we have these on a

regular basis and uh you’ll be able to

find out more about where other

additions are so uh thank you very much

for your time and we look forward to

having you join join us on another

Edition very very soon take care

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