has turned his early passion for innovative
design into a competitive international success.
Photography by Michael Buck
success story demonstrates two principles:
The American dream is very much alive, and
the combination of passion and a strong work
ethic can bring that dream to fruition.
Jeup, 38, purchased the assets of
Designer’s Workshop, a sister company of
John Widdicomb, in 1997. He had worked there while
attending Kendall College of Art and Design and
for five years after graduation. Since then, he
has developed a new client base, bringing the now-named
Jeup Furniture unprecedented success.
In the past six months alone, Jeup has established showrooms in Los Angeles,
San Francisco, Boston, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Miami, Chicago, Scottsdale and Denver.
Two recently established showrooms of which Jeup is most proud are in Taipei,
Taiwan, and Hong Kong.
I’ve been real aggressive over the last year,” Jeup said. “The
furniture business has had a rough time with imports — we’ve
had to stay competitive.”
Locally based in Jenison, Jeup Furniture offers niche-market residential and
commercial furniture to interior designers or architects as an alternative to
retail stores. The Jeup line is focused on high-end furnishings, boasting clientele
such as The Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton hotels.
It’s a couture line,” said Jeup, who added that several Michigan
clients have purchased pieces after viewing them on his Web site, www.jeupfurniture.com.
Growing up in Mt. Clemens, Jeup
said he knew as early as middle school what his
career path would be, adding: “I started
in middle school in an industrial arts program
and was in shop class. (I) had a passion
While in high school, Jeup heard
about a job opening with a local cabinet manufacturer.
He applied and was hired, becoming at age 17 an
to three master
craftsmen from Italy. He attended Lawrence Technological University
in Southfield, transferring
after three years to Kendall, when he began his stint with Designer’s
It was a 20-person operation when I was working there,” said Jeup. “I
took the essence of the operation (and) hand-picked 10 people.
Our first year, we did the same revenue with 10 as they were doing
Being as savvy with business decisions
as he is with design has undeniably led to Jeup’s
noteworthy success at a young age.
People say, ‘You’re young, how’d you get into the business
and get so successful so quickly?’” he said. “I was ready to
take a risk that most people are not. And maybe ignorance is bliss in the early
years — there is some truth to that thought.”
However, Jeup’s acumen is
about far more than streamlining labor. He is also
a designer, describing his line of furniture
Every year we come out with a new collection. Our product line kind of tells
a story, has a certain sensibility from a design aesthetic,” he said. “I
had a certain passion to design product that didn’t exist in the marketplace. … I
want to create new and innovative product. I was fortunate enough to understand
that that’s where I wanted to go.”
Jeup now employs a staff of about 20, whose excellence he hopes to retain.
“As the furniture industry goes away, the pool of people goes away. I think
we’ve got a great staff. This company is about me, but it’s also
about these people that are here. Without them, I can’t do it,” he
Jeup projects steady, managed growth for Jeup Furniture. He said his focus on
customer service keeps him centered in well-planned business development, and
his future goals include becoming even more profitable and honing in on his segment
of the market. GR