In 1986, vacationing attorney Anthony Vidergauz reluctantly sat in on his mother-in-law's appointment to rearrange her closets. He never imagined he'd one day reorganize the closets and home offices of customers worldwide. Vidergauz liked what he saw at that appointment with a representative from San Francisco-based California Closet Co. Inc.--so much so that he soon left his home in South Africa to become the growing franchisor's legal counsel. "I believed in the company almost immediately," says Vidergauz.
Fast forward to 1994 and the purchase of California Closets by Vidergauz and his partner, Bill LeVine, founder of Postal Instant Press (PIP). While LeVine serves as chairman of the board, Vidergauz, now president and CEO, is taking California Closets to new pinnacles with the help of a new national marketing fund, implemented in 1996.
Franchisees, who overwhelmingly agreed to support the plan, contribute 3 percent of monthly revenues to the fund. This has enabled Vidergauz to aggressively expand California Closets' brand recognition through national ads in such high-profile magazines as Martha Stewart Living and Metropolitan Home, as well as through national TV advertising.
The company's visibility is also increasing as more franchisees open retail stores, in addition to their existing production facilities, and pursue local builders and interior designers. Says Vidergauz, "Every client of an interior designer is a potential client of ours." The company's list of celebrity customers includes Michael Jordan, Elton John, Tom Clancy and, recently, Tiger Woods.
With franchise locations spreading worldwide, the custom designed and organized closets, once considered a trend for the affluent, have found their way into the mainstream. Says Vidergauz, "All over the world, when people list their homes for sale, one feature they're including is `California Closets' because they see it as putting more value in their home. Obviously, we like to see that."