David Lanxner is the founder and CEO of Maison Drake, a Florida-based retail company. David is a graduate of the University of Michigan (GO BLUE!) and has propelled the company from a small startup in 2007 to a leader in the retail industry. His dedication and unique blend of transparency and accountability sets the tone for Maison Drake. David is a proud husband to his beautiful wife, Ashley, and proud father to their three kids – Ari, Levi, and Nava.
Tell me about your early career.
I’ve always been drawn to entrepreneurship from my days in college. During the summers, I operated and managed M&L Sealcoating, an asphalt seal coating business, along with a dear childhood friend of mine. It was a very dirty line of work but one that taught me valuable life and business lessons that I still value today. We sold the business after our senior year as we both felt we needed to concentrate more on continuing our education. From there, I obtained my real estate license and quickly became a top selling agent my first year in the business. I was fortunate to learn from the best in the business and was hungry for success. In 2005, I came into a great opportunity to manage a financial analysis company based in Orlando, FL. Along with my business partner, we grew the company exponentially and sold it two years later. After some research and analyzing different markets and opportunities, I then founded Maison Drake. I do have to give a tremendous amount of credit to my beautiful wife as she was, and still is, instrumental in growing and developing the business from a one-man show operating out of our house and garage to where we are now.
How did the concept for Maison Drake come about?
After we had our first child, we noticed that there was a lack of resources locally for guidance and direction on baby products. There were the big box stores around and the ability to purchase online. However, we could not find a place that provided the personalized customer service new parents need when purchasing baby gear or products. Maison Drake was created to fulfill that need locally and then expanded online.
What was your marketing strategy?
Our first year in business was great, overall. Not very lucrative, although we learned a tremendous amount and kept moving forward. Our marketing strategy in our first year relied on word-of-mouth and referrals. As we expanded online, our philosophy was to provide a personalized customer experience through excellent customer service and communication, while investing in fulfillment services to deliver orders quickly.
How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
The company grew steadily the first two years and then we invested heavily in some new technologies that helped us continue to grow from one level to the next over the years.
How do you define success?
I think of success as feeling good about what you are doing and getting a sense of fulfillment with what you are working towards. The one thing I love the most about the position I am in is that my company provides jobs and supports not only my family but all of my employees and their families as well. To me, that is what’s most important. It gives me a great sense of accomplishment, but at the same time, provides with the motivation to keep improving and growing. I don’t think there is a single key to success. For me, surrounding myself with a great team has been instrumental to the company’s success.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
The greatest lesson I’ve learned is to stay true to your values. There have been many times where opportunities have presented themselves, that would have required us to veer off on a somewhat different path. However, I have learned that in the long run, staying true to yourself, business relationships, and commitments will always prevail.
What are some quotes that you live by?
“The team, the team, the team.”
“99% right is 100% wrong.”
Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
Every day as a business owner is tough. Ultimately, everything that happens or doesn’t happen is on you. I learn from it and better myself and my team from whatever challenges the day brings along.
When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
My family and my employees push me every day to keep moving forward, and to push harder.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
Accept the fact that you don’t know everything and there is always someone that can offer a different perspective on things. Also, learn from other leaders and surround yourself with quality people.
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This interview was conducted for research purposes by author Jason Navallo for his upcoming book, Underdog.
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