When parents buy products for their babies, they expect quality, value and solutions that make the job of being a parent just a little bit easier. Munchkin’s CEO Steve Dunn, a father of two himself, has made that a mandate of Munchkin Inc. The company manufactures hundreds of products, including bottles, sippy cups and safety gates.

Dunn started Munchkin in 1992, after working in Venture capital. After his first child was born, he recalls thinking, “I was getting tired of reading other people’s business plans. When I started looking at some of the products we were buying for our daughter, I saw the opportunity to be creative and bring some much-needed freshness and innovation to several categories.”

When Dunn formed the company, “We started off with an 18,000-square-foot office and warehouse,” he recalls, noting that the company had sales of more than $15 million in 1993, with a line of licensed baby bottles shaped like soda bottles with the Pepsi®, Dr Pepper® and 7-Up® logos.

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Comfort is perhaps the single most important factor people consider when buying a piece of furniture. If a chair, sofa or bed isn’t comfortable, odds are the shopper will move on to something else. That same principle applies to furniture retailers, as well, as shoppers want to look for their new furniture in an environment that treats them fairly and makes them feel comfortable throughout the entire process. This is why Mooradians Furniture has thrived for multiple generations in the Albany, N.Y., area, according to partner and owner Bill Mooradian. 

The company roots begin with Mooradian’s grandfather, an Armenian immigrant who opened an appliance store next to his meat market after the Great Depression took hold. Mooradian says one of the company’s earliest successes was with coin-operated refrigerators, with the company collecting the coins from customers’ homes on a regular basis. Over time, the company moved from household appliances to furniture, and soon the Mooradian name became associated with high-quality furniture. 

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In today’s retail world, the customer experience is paramount. The most successful retailers organize their stores and sales efforts in a manner that creates excitement and engagement around the products they offer, instead of just placing them in a passive display against a wall or in a locked case.

As of now, “excitement” and “engagement” are typically not words that people think of when they shop for a new pair of glasses. One of the world’s leading eyewear companies wants to change that.

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In a crowded marketplace, the right culture can mean a lot for a company and its customers. That’s why Locke Supply can claim to be one of the leaders in the plumbing, electrical and HVAC distribution marketplace, according to Vice President of Operations John Orman. He says the internal culture Locke Supply has built over 60 years of serving the Southwest has translated into strong relationships with contractors, plumbers and electricians throughout the region. 

“Our culture is extremely important to us, the way we go to market,” Orman says. “We feel like that is something that sets us apart.”

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Since it was started in 1991, Lighting New York has evolved into a leading residential and commercial lighting expert in the Empire State and beyond. By combining retail showrooms in the Bowery with an extensive online presence, Lighting New York has fully embraced the omnichannel world and expanded its business well beyond its New York City origins in Manhattan’s lighting district.

“Initially, we were primarily importing product from Europe,” President Gary Fitterman says. “We differentiated ourselves because we could create value and build a big collection by directly importing merchandise. When the dollar collapsed, we moved more toward domestic and Chinese product, which again helped differentiate our offerings.”

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The Lebo’s story is one of perseverance and adaptability. Founded in 1923 when Sidney Levin opened the first Lebo’s in uptown Charlotte, N.C., the company’s initial focus was footwear for the whole family with specialty service for customers with hard-to-fit feet. The company built a strong client base and became known for service, sizes and selection before expanding its offerings in a multitude of areas.

Jerry Levin, son of the founder and current CEO, expanded Lebo’s in the 1950s with the addition of a dancewear department that carries a complete line of ballet, tap, jazz, clogging and square dance products. In the 1960s, the company created its own Barbette line of dance shoes and dancewear products, which has grown into a recognizable brand.

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Just Cabinets Furniture & More is remodeling its older generation of stores that opened in the 1990s and opening new, modernized locations that will provide further convenience 

for its customers. “Part of my objective is rolling out new bigger, brighter locations with better merchandising so customers can enjoy an array of products more effectively than in our smaller units,” President Ted Bernstein says.

Bernstein’s father, Mort, started the Harrisburg, Pa.-based company in 1979 as an unfinished furniture and kitchen cabinets retailer. “I joined him in 1990, we opened a couple more stores and quickly realized that the future of the unfinished furniture business – given the changing lifestyle of our customer – was limited,” Bernstein explains. 

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When Chad Hallock is asked about the aspects of Home Franchise Concepts that most make it successful, he offers a multi-part response instead of making just one simple statement.

“A combination of several things really makes us work,” he says of the company he co-founded in 1992 and today leads as CEO. “A lot of companies go for the big, home run, but we believe more in a lot of base hits. We do a lot of little things that make the one thing, the company, all that much better.”

One of the first things Hallock mentions about the company is its culture, which is focused on helping people go into business for themselves and grow their business to be successful. “Every one of our brands has a solid vision that I think our franchisees can climb on board and believe in as much as we do,” he says, noting that the majority of new franchisees receive a day-long “Discovery Day” where HFC shares its strategic vision before anybody actually becomes a franchisee.

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