Before he had four thriving flooring and furniture stores open in the Birmingham area, Steve Issis was just another young entrepreneur peddling his services at the local flea market. But after graduating from Ensley High School in 1979, the ambitious youngster immediately began building his flooring business, which would eventually become Issis & Sons — one of Birmingham’s top-rated retail flooring and furniture businesses.
“It took a lot of work and a lot of time,” Steve says of his first few years trying to make his mark in the industry. “I met a lot of great folks who helped me along the way.” Back then, Steve’s sole means of marketing was going door to door, asking locals how he could be of service for their flooring needs. Bit by bit, and through heart and perseverance, he built strong customer relationships and became a well-known presence at local markets. He knew he was ready to launch a full-fledged business of his own.
Steve’s father, Odeh Issis, helped him open his first storefront location in Pelham, establishing the business as a family enterprise. “We only had 1,000 square feet and a staff of two,” Steve says of his first few years in business. “We really started this thing from the ground up and performed all the hands-on work ourselves.”
From day one, Steve says, his parents preached a rigorous work ethic. His father, who immigrated to the states from Jerusalem in 1950, believed in earning your way and always doing right by the customer.
“He could hardly read a word of English when he came here,” Steve says of his father, “but he was a hard worker. He believed that if you wanted something in life, you had to go out there and get it.”
That same sense of perseverance and determination has remained strong throughout generations of the Issis family. Today, Steve says, the company still functions under the same salient philosophy of always putting the customer first. Although the business has expanded enormously, its original purpose has stayed true since day one.
“Our motto is to always take care of the customer,” Steve says. “Our boss is the customer, and we still live by that today.”
Over the years, the company has continued to expand, with the Pelham store now exceeding 100,000 square feet. In 2000, Issis opened a 22,000-square-foot store in Greystone, and in 2008, the family embarked on a new business venture: the opening of Issis & Sons Furniture Gallery in Pelham at the intersection of Cahaba Valley Road and Alabama 119. Along with offering their signature skills in flooring and furniture, the company also has several designers on staff who are able to help customers with any and all decorating needs.
In 2014, Issis purchased Greenbrier Furniture, which had been open for 50 years in Vestavia Hills. The 28,000-square-foot landmark building is now one of Issis’ four locations that proudly feature furniture, art, lamps, decorative accents, pillows and more in home decor — from the traditional and stately to chic and modern to rustic and charming.
“We’ve gone from that first 1,000-square-foot space to four stores equal to about 200,000 square feet,” Steve says. “And we offer everything from carpet and flooring to furniture and accessories.”
The great thing about Issis, Steve says, is buyers can work with one designer from a blank slate to the finishing coffee-table touches to completely outfit their home.
“We take pride in our customers, and our employees are great assets,” he says. “They’re not just salespeople. They’re designers who can take a project from start to finish.”
As for the future of the business, Steve says residents can expect the same top-of-the-line services he’s been delivering since day one. No job is too big or too small for Issis, he says, adding, “We treat our customers the way we would want to be treated.”
The business is also still a family enterprise, as two of Steve’s nephews and his sister work for the company.
Steve eschews taking full credit for the company’s success, and instead marvels that he’s been blessed with such wonderful customers and talented employees, saying, “We always realize that the good Lord has made this all happen.”
Thank you to Issis & Sons Furniture and Flooring Gallery for today’s beautiful images.
Issis & Sons has four locations in the Birmingham area — two are furniture galleries and two specialize in flooring. Hours and phone numbers vary according to location. For more information, visit issisandsons.com.
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