By Matt Pillar, senior executive editor, Innovative Retail Technologies
The National Federation of Independent Businesses pegs the number of husband-and-wife teams running companies in the U.S. at well over 1.2 million.
Most of these businesses — and even more unfortunately, most of these marriages — are a flash in the pan. According to research from Forbes, just a fraction of husband-and-wife teams achieve success in the form of wealth, and fewer still manage to do so while remaining married.
Husband-and-wife channel executives Scott and Alicia Kreisberg have crushed those odds. Now in its 32nd year, their company, One Step Retail Solutions, boasts a nationwide roster of household brand names that depend on the Kreisbergs and their 50-some employees to furnish their retail technology platforms. Those brands include Asics, the museum shop at the MOMA in Manhattan, New Era Cap Company, and Oakley, to name a few.
We caught up with the Kreisbergs for a discussion on how they’ve avoided the pitfalls of spousal business partnerships — and how they’ve built a wildly successful company along the way.
His Vision, Her Execution
Launched by Scott in 1985, One Step Retail Solutions had already found its legs when Alicia joined the company as a part-time inside sales rep eight years later. She not only excelled in her new capacity, but she also truly enjoyed what she was doing. “I grew to love the retail industry, its people, and the IT channel community,” she says. Her fervor for the job was Scott’s first inkling that his wife could bring more value to the business, and the couple realized retrospectively that her passion for the business is central to their ability to make their partnership work. Alicia quickly transitioned to sales management, learned the ropes of HR and marketing, and worked her way up the corporate ladder to her current chief administrative officer position. Marketing became her primary focus. At times, she acknowledges that her husband’s visionary personality created some tall orders for her marketing department.
Scott acknowledges it, too. “It wasn’t all cookies and ice cream to start,” he says. “In my role as CEO, I live three to five years ahead of the business. That means constantly bringing new technologies, processes, and business innovations to the table.” Right now, for instance, the visionary innovation that consumes Scott is bringing unified commerce solutions into the channel. “The channel can’t be just about POS anymore, and by the same token, e-commerce providers can’t sustain their businesses focused solely on the web,” he says. “The inevitability of the Amazon effect is driving us to guide the vendors and software developers that serve the channel toward unified retail platforms.” Because so many of One Step’s customers are omni-channel apparel retailers, Scott finds himself in the early stages of exploring body scanning technology as one means to the unified commerce end in apparel. He wants to help his apparel merchants solve the e-commerce size issue that results in a plague of returns and customer dissatisfaction. Left to his own devices, he’d already be marketing a body scanning solution, albeit a not-quite-baked one. Therein lay Alicia’s challenge.
“In the past, I’d already be asking Alicia to take this concept to market,” says Scott. “Today, it’s take a deep breath. Let’s evaluate. Let’s address the privacy and security concerns and monitor demand before we go to market.”
As CAO, it became Alicia’s job to implement Scott’s vision, and when necessary... to read the rest of their interview, please click on the following link BEAT THE ODDS ARTICLE