Dave Dumoulin | From Paper Routes to Office Furniture Powerhouse

Dave Dumoulin is the President and CEO of LW Office Furniture Warehouse, a nationally recognized leader in the field of office furniture liquidation and resale. Approximately five years ago, Dave pivoted his career to purchase the used office furniture company, Liquidators World. Under his leadership, he successfully rebranded the company, opened additional locations, and expanded the business through difficult economic periods, including the pandemic.

Dave has led diverse businesses in the lumber, flooring, and software sales industries. His experience spans leadership roles in companies such as Talpx, JP Flooring Systems Inc., and RFMS Inc.

Tune in to this episode of the Smart Business Revolution Podcast, as John Corcoran sits down with Dave Dumoulin, President and CEO of LW Office Furniture Warehouse, to delve into Dave’s entrepreneurial journey of buying a used office furniture company, transforming it into a thriving venture, and doubling its revenues even during a global pandemic. He provides insights on expanding a product lineup, offering customizable solutions, and adapting to the changes in the business landscape.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • [01:57] How early entrepreneurship shaped Dave Dumoulin’s business outlook
  • [03:17] Dave’s insights into personal reinvention and business diversification
  • [04:07] The significant role of adaptability and shifting market trends in Dave’s career
  • [05:16] Combining industry expertise with emerging technologies
  • [06:11] Sales tactics and team-building strategies that fuel business success
  • [07:01] Leveraging personality assessments in hiring sales talent
  • [11:32] Dave’s pivotal decisions in rebranding and expanding product offerings
  • [15:03] LW Office Furniture Warehouse’s business growth during the pandemic 
  • [25:58] Propelling business growth by embracing technology and change
  • [29:01] How entrepreneurial peer groups can offer valuable guidance and accountability

Resources Mentioned In This Episode

Sponsor: Rise25

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Episode Transcript

John Corcoran 0:01

Today we are talking about how to double the revenues of your business in just four years’ time. I’m talking to a guest who bought a used office furniture company. And they actually were able to double the revenues, even during the pandemic. So stay tuned, and you’ll hear that story in a moment.

Intro 0:18

Welcome to the Smart Business Revolution podcast, where we feature top entrepreneurs, business leaders, and thought leaders and ask them how they built the relationships to get where they are today. Now, let’s get started with the show.

John Corcoran 0:35

All right. Welcome, everyone. John Corcoran here. I’m the host of this show. And you know, every week, I talk to interesting entrepreneurs, founders, and business executives and entrepreneurs from all kinds of companies. We’ve had Kinkos, Netflix, YPO, EO, Activision Blizzard, LendingTree, OpenTable, and many more. And, of course, this episode is brought to you by Rise25, where we help B2B businesses get client referrals and strategic partnerships with done-for-you podcasts and content marketing. 

And my guest here today is Dave Dumoulin. He and I connected through the entrepreneurial master’s program, EMP, through Entrepreneurs Organization, which we both belong to. And he is the president, and CEO of LW Office Furniture Warehouse, which is out of Cincinnati, Ohio. He has done a number of different positions, run a number of different businesses, and purchased this business about five or so years ago now, and managed to open another location, grow it through the pandemic. 

So we’re going to hear all of his stories about how he managed to do that, and some of the different sales strategies that he put in place. And Dave, pleasure to have you here today. And I love to hear stories about my guests and what they were like as a kid. And, you know, you grew up in, I believe it was Northern Indiana and on the lake there. And you were doing a paper route at 10 years old. And you had a number of different hustles at a young age. Tell us a little bit about what a young 10-year-old’s day was like running around riding your bike, I can envision delivering papers.

Dave Dumoulin 2:04

Yeah, first of all, John, thanks so much for having me. It’s been a pleasure meeting you at EMP and I’m excited to hook back up with you in June when we get back for a second year. So yeah, you know, I grew up very middle class. But the one thing that, uh, growing up very middle class did is my father bought a lake house for a whopping $10,000 when I was two weeks old, and was about an hour from our main home in Fort Wayne. And we lived in this little tiny camp right on the lake. 

And I started delivering papers at the age of 10 years old, literally, a guy would drop off, you know, a couple 100 papers, we load them on our bike, and we’d ride over and we covered half the lake. We did that until all of a sudden I realized that, wow, maybe I can take the rowboat across the lake with my little six-horsepower motor. And I could start working at the Marina pumping gas. And the beauty about working at the marina pumping gas is there were always young girls that came in that needed gas that had the bathing suits on so we had a great time as a kid growing up and it really taught me a good work ethic, whatnot as a young kid working from 10 years old.

John Corcoran 3:11

Yeah, so that’s a pretty young age to get started. And you had a couple of other businesses as you got older, high school, college, that sort of thing, one of which was a lumberyard. How did you get into selling lumber?

Dave Dumoulin 3:25

Yeah. So you know, you know, I think one thing anybody can do is they can reinvent themselves at any given time. And my wife Jen, and I’ve been married 25 years and she knows I’ve reinvented myself at least six times. Yeah, years ago, I was a sales manager for a lumber company inside the city of Cincinnati. There was one for sale about 25-30 miles north of the city in Oxford, Ohio where Miami University is. And I stepped in and I bought that Lumber Company. I grew it, ran it great and all of a sudden I woke up one day and like, you know, I’m not making enough money. So I sold it. And I sold all the goods and then I went to work for the first internet company that I worked for, which is a company by the name of Talpx. 

John Corcoran 4:11

And what year was that you were working for Talpx? 

Dave Dumoulin 4:15

Yeah, I started working Talpx in 2000. Okay, and I was with them for about 18 months and then they got blown up in the internet explosion back in 2001-2002. 

John Corcoran 4:29

A lot of dot com meltdowns and many companies happened too.

Dave Dumoulin 4:33

Yeah, for sure. So then I went to work in lumber distribution and ran distribution companies in Ohio, Indiana, and California. From for after distribution. I came to work for a buddy in the flooring industry. I ran his large flooring company that I went to. From there I went to the software company RFMS where we grew the sales of RFMS by double in the eight years that I was there. 

John Corcoran 5:00

I’m curious when you are coming from this lumber company and you’re interviewing at this software company, you know, this internet company, how did you convince them that, oh, my skills are completely irrelevant here. Like, to an outsider, that sounds completely different. Like working in a lumber company doing software sales sounds completely different. But obviously, you convinced them. 

Dave Dumoulin 5:23

Yeah, well, the first thing was the first internet company was by the name of Talpx and their value proposition was, they were trying to hook the lumberyard to the mills in Canada. So they created an e-commerce platform. So they needed folks that understood technology but also understood lumber. So that was an easy move. 

And then the second internet company or software company that I worked for, they were the software that we used at the flooring company, JP Flooring. We use that software, it’s called RFMS. So after I left there, they reached out to me and said, hey, you know, you know flooring, you know the software already. So that’s how I ended up moving over to that side. You know, it pays and understand a little bit of technology and also understand the business that you’re in for most for most businesses,

John Corcoran 6:18

Right, what drew you to sales?

Dave Dumoulin 6:11

You know, I’ve always sold, my dad sold. I just think it was just kind of a natural personality. I really enjoy one-on-one communication, I enjoy the mindset around sales, I enjoy working with customers. And, you know, I’m a pretty easy and friendly guy to get along with. And that bodes well with sales.

John Corcoran 6:41

How do you identify someone who’s going to be good at sales?

Dave Dumoulin 6:47

You know, it’s so much different now than it used to be. I mean, you know, sales used to be done on a handshake years ago. And now it’s, you know, it’s all done, unfortunately, with paper and contracts and things like that. You know, I’m always at first, personalities. The first thing I always like to do is have them tested on a personality test to kind of understand what they think and how they think.

John Corcoran 7:09

You have one you’d like, in particular, that’s something you put together yourself? 

Dave Dumoulin 7:13

You know, we’ve done a little bit of everything on them. I’ve kind of jumped around, I wouldn’t say I found one that I actually love. I don’t if they’re 100% accurate. I think they’re, you know, they’ll give you, what I think they do is they give you the ability to check your gut. We all like to hire a little bit off that when you’re hiring sales, you’re hiring from somebody that’s got experience in the back, if they sold big things before, you know, for me, it was always what kind of what size of ticket they sold before. So like when I’m selling with a software company. You know, we like to hire people that were in the flooring industry, because we were flooring software. But if they’ve never sold anything over $1000 or $2,000, you’re never going to get them to sell $100,000 piece of software, or more. So I think it all goes back with how comfortable they are with the conversations. And a lot of that is just by spending time with people in an interview. And usually it’s for me when I’m interviewing people, it’s 2, 3, 4 interviews before I actually give anybody an offer that’s going to get us somewhere on the job. 

John Corcoran 8:18

Now, you’re a personable guy, you like talking with people, you seem like you’re easy to talk to, and enjoy people. But what’s interesting to me is a lot of times, there are people that can be really good at sales that aren’t maybe as naturally chatty. Maybe they make up for it with discipline, or with consistency or follow up or knowledge or something like that. What are your thoughts on that in terms of like, what makes a personality of someone who’s going to be good at sales? Do you find that it’s, you know, they have to have a lot of the personality or their other character traits that make up?

Dave Dumoulin 8:55

I don’t think so. Because not everybody likes a wet personality like mine. Right? Some people like a dry personality. Yeah. And I would say it really goes back to, you know, how are they with a customer? Do they have eye contact? Do they have critical thinking? And can they actually carry on a conversation? It’s not necessarily about hey, yay, rah, rah, rah, let’s go, here’s what I can do for you, it’s as much about how do you create a relationship and I think the key on most good salespeople is they can create a relationship on any type of person that’s out there. Somebody that super dry, somebody super wet, somebody that’s super serious, somebody that’s a super critical thinker, they’ve got to be able to mold and chameleon themselves a little bit to be able to to be able to create rapport on that. 

But at the same time, John, a lot of that a lot of that’s changing now, as we all know, there’s very little there’s very little sales that are actually happening now face to face on things. You know, the pandemic and the world has really changed how some of that sales stuff is doing corporate travels not back yet. If you start talking to a lot of these guys that are out there, you know, they’ve shut all that down and they’re now selling this way like you and I are on a zoom call or conference call. And I think a guy like me, I’d have a hard time doing that on a regular basis now compared to the way I’ve always sold it in my previous years.