Seventeen years ago, when Audrey Garard responded to a Monster.com listing for a sales rep, she didn’t know where it would lead. Just two years earlier, she had graduated from Missouri State University with a marketing degree, and she was looking for a new opportunity. After a series of interviews, Grooms Office Environments hired her into its sales team. “I was a hustler, even at 22,” she says. “I worked hard and invested a lot of time in meeting people and making connections.”
Garard helped the business expand to new industries and diversify its offerings, which became particularly important during the economic downturn of 2008. “We had to figure out how to stay alive,” she says. “In addition to selling furniture, we found other streams for revenue.” For example, the company began handling the purchase and installation of flooring for its clients. Garard was promoted to management and leadership positions, and in 2015, she and her husband, Jonathan, purchased the company from founder Olin Grooms.
Since then, Grooms has grown exponentially. “It’s been very organic,” she says. “We have a lot of amazing, talented people who work hard and have the same ‘can-do’ attitude.” Garard gives her employees and designers the freedom to pursue creative ideas and to think outside the box, and she encourages their continued professional growth. “Whatever they want to do, such as a continuing education class or a design certification, I’ll pay for it,” she says. “We treat our people so well that they don’t want to leave.”
The same goes for Grooms’ clients. “I love solving problems!” Garard says. “When a client walks in and doesn’t know how to fix an issue, we’ve got it covered. If it’s something we haven’t done before, we figure it out.”