Throughout the last 50 years, Brumbaugh’s has built its legacy on two things: furniture and family.
Decades ago when Larry Brumbaugh was deciding what he was going to do with his life, there was no way it was going to be somewhere other than his hometown. And it wasn’t going to be something other than home furnishings. Today, after 50 years in the business, Larry Brumbaugh and Brumbaugh’s Fine Home Furnishings are Fort Worth, Texas, institutions.
Businessman, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and self-effacing hobbyist artist (“I throw my drawings in a drawer where nobody can see them”), Brumbaugh learned cattle trading from his granddad. He learned brand inspection on a first job with the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association. He learned logistics as a supply sergeant for eight years in the Marines at Camp Pendleton. But it was on an early job as a “gofer” in a furniture store that he learned how to take care of customers.
All these decades later, it’s that people part of the business that keeps him interested. “It’s exciting dealing with customers and employees,” Brumbaugh says. “I’ve always liked to visit with people — to find out where they’re from and what they do, get acquainted and know who they are. Knowing the customers goes with the flow of being in the furniture business. You get interesting folks and get a feel for them as people. It’s definitely an individual, one-on-one deal. We get good insight.”
And customers get good quality. “This is top-of-the-ladder stuff with real longevity,” Brumbaugh says. “These things are meant to last a good long while. A lot of the items are one-of-a-kind and very unique. Quality is number one, and I’d say 99 percent is USA-made.”
Brumbaugh’s “Texas to Tuscan” sense of style — a refined rustic “Western chic” — goes well in everything from ranches to regular homes. Whether it’s a leather or leather-combination sofa (“We’re strong on leather; most of our business is around the leather area — combinations thereof”), accessories, a hand-woven rug, or a signed giclée, it’s all gleaned from what he personally likes, what’s trending, and what customers want. These days, there’s also input from the next generation, Larry’s daughter Elizabeth.
But however on-trend a piece might be, it’s got to pass the Larry test. “I first look for quality,” he reiterates. “Then I try out every sofa and chair and recliner — how it sits, how it operates. I definitely sit in everything we purchase to make sure everything is copacetic for the customer.”
Having everything in excellent order for the customer isn’t just the former Marine talking. It’s the businessman who believes that “quality and honesty are the only way to go.” That philosophy hasn’t changed over the years. What has? “The first location was 8,000 square feet and cheap rent. Now it’s up to 50,000 square feet in a building on the west side of Fort Worth, Texas. At first it was just me; now I have 10 employees. The furniture industry is different now, too. Today, you mix and match — you don’t go all maple, for instance. The variety gives you a very personal look and reflects your individuality.”
And that individuality, for Brumbaugh, is what really makes a house a home. “The furnishings inside the home are the big key. You can walk into an empty house and visualize what would look good and fit. You might imagine the family comfortably gathered around the TV set in the evening, or maybe company coming over. Where everyone gathers is the focus. As you add to your furniture stylings, you create your own domain.”
If you pay a visit to Brumbaugh’s domain, you’re bound to meet the man in charge — maybe in his favorite spot at the center of the store, where his desk is command central and he can see everything and everyone. “I’m on the job here six days a week taking care of customers,” he says. “I’m here — not on the golf course or out doing this or that. I’m here to make the quick decision. I’m entrenched.”
After hours, in his other domain, you’re likely to find him entrenched in the special recliner he shares with his Jack Russell terrier, Cyrus. Because when it comes to furniture and dogs, Brumbaugh is a “definitely on” kind of guy: “They are members of the family.”
And at Brumbaugh’s, furniture is all about family.
Visit Brumbaugh’s Fine Home Furnishings online.
From the October 2016 issue.