An interview with Matthew Grana, vice president, third generation owner of Grand Frame Inc. in Arlington Heights.
Q: Describe your business. What do you do?
A: Grand Frame is a picture framing company that offers framing to residential clients, corporations and government institutions. We specialize in shadow box framing and complicated projects. As of April 15, 2014, we will launch an e-commerce division of Grand Frame called instaframing.com. This allows the consumer to build a custom frame and upload photos taken from their smartphone device.
Q: What made you start your business?
A: My father Gary was an art student that turned framer and started the business when he was 17 years old in a retail store located at 123 Davis St. in Arlington Heights. Since he was a minor, he couldn't own a business, so he started it with his parents. In 1976, he met my mother, Carrie and they have been running the business together ever since.
Q: What has been the most difficult obstacle in running or starting a small business?
A: Continuing to make sure you remain relevant in the consumer's eye. We are constantly stepping back and evaluating our business to make sure we are offering the right products and services to our customers. I often meet with other industry peers to discuss the climate of our businesses.
Q: What do you enjoy most about operating your business?
The relationships that we have with our customers. We have many customers who have been doing business with my parents since 1974. It is really fun to see our original client's children and grand children do business with us.
Q: Is this what you pictured yourself doing when you were young?
A: I have been coming to Grand Frame my entire life and could not picture myself doing anything else. As a child, I always wanted to be like my father. I have had the opportunity to work side by side with my parents full time for more than 12 years now.
I am really proud of what I do for a living, and I think it is because my parents were always proud of what they did. I hope to keep Grand Frame running strong into the future so my daughter will have the opportunity to run the family business. That would make her 4th generation.
Q: What keeps you up at night?
A: The excitement of another day. I never know what tomorrow will bring. Today I am working on merchandising my showroom, tonight I will be doing an install of 20 pieces at someone's home, and tomorrow I will be assisting our staff on a special project in our production department.
Q: If you could give one tip to a rookie business owner, what would it be?
A: The most important thing to do is to be involved with your community. We are very fortunate to still be running strong after 40 years, and we try to give back to the community as much as possible.
I encourage you to reach out to your local business community such as the Lions Club, Rotary and the Chamber of Commerce.
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