When people pursue entrepreneurship, it’s common to be drawn to a concept that fulfills a personal connection. BoConcept Franchisee Steen Skaaning exemplifies this trend through his exposure to the furniture industry since childhood.
Skaaning was raised as the son and grandson of cabinet makers in Denmark. In fact, his childhood home was next to a cabinet factory called Skaaning & Son Nederbro Mobelfabrik owned by his family. After high school, he attended vocational training for cabinetry, followed by military service until the age of 21. Skaaning then went on to follow the family trend and get involved with the furniture industry.
“After growing up, more or less, in a furniture factory, it was a natural fit for me to enter the industry,” Skaaning said. “I felt at home with my craft.”
Skaaning came to the United States in 1981 and worked in Ft. Lauderdale in furniture sales with the Danish Furniture Center. He went on to become a furniture representative for Fine Furniture Factories, spending 200 days per year for 20 years travelling across North America selling Scandinavian teak furniture.
In 2002, Skaaning entered furniture retail operations with the opening of Inspiration Furniture in Vancouver, Canada along with his brother and fellow industry entrepreneur, Peter. It was upon selling BoConcept products in their store that the duo became fans of the brand.
“We liked the contemporary aspects of BoConcept’s products when we opened our store,” Skaaning said. “The teak wave was fading and we made the conscious decision not to have any teak furniture and focus on contemporary European brands - BoConcept was a stand out.”
The Skaanings loved the brand so much that they separated the top floor of their showroom into a section focused only on BoConcept products. When BoConcept began franchising in 2006 and the opportunity arose for Peter and Steen to become exclusive dealers of the brand, they converted the top floor of their showroom into a BoConcept store and BoConcept Vancouver was born.
The Skaanings were confident that BoConcept would be a great fit for Vancouver due to its demographic and metropolitan environment. The store itself is within close proximity to the downtown area, where locals work, live and shop.
“Vancouver itself has a high density of downtown condo living, with individuals residing within a short distance of where they work,” Skaaning said. “BoConcept allows for these individuals to customize their homes with options that are ideal for smaller living spaces.”
Since seeing success from opening BoConcept in Vancouver, the Skaanings have begun the next chapter in their BoConcept careers with acquisition of the Greater Seattle area location in Bellevue, WA in April of 2017. This came at a great time, as there has been a flood of young professionals moving to the Bellevue area with the rise of the tech scene. And all of these new residents have homes that need furnishing.
“The demographic of greater Seattle is becoming increasingly young, with individuals who are truly drawn to modern furniture,” Skaaning said. “People are also relocating from all over the world to both Vancouver and Seattle, so we benefit from the brand recognition, especially with those from Europe, Asia and South America. We are here to help them make their new surroundings feel like home and see massive potential with BoConcept in Bellevue.”