By MIKE CARLSON |
A family business thrives as its third generation owner, Jennifer Savio, takes the reins
PUBLISHED: January 2, 2019 at 5:23 pm | UPDATED: January 3, 2019 at 1:32 pm
If you find yourself looking out a window in Orange County, there’s a chance it was dressed or designed by Beach Drapery, or its subset, Creative Window Designs. For the last 47 years this family-owned business, with headquarters in Irvine and a showroom in Costa Mesa, has put style on thousands of windows.
Jennifer Savio is the president and the third generation to be at the helm of the company, which was started by her grandparents. When they retired, Savio’s father bought them out. In 2017, history repeated itself when Savio became president and her father moved into semi-retirement.
“Taking over a family business is a different type of pressure than taking over at a new company and wanting to put your stamp on things,” she says. Savio finds herself balancing her duty to protect a successful business with the desire to expand and enhance the brand. She has hit on a strategy that she feels will service both goals: an aggressive corporate wellness plan.
Under her guidance, the company has launched a broad holistic wellness program: Massage therapists come into the office; employees are issued water bottles to encourage hydration; a blind taste test was arranged to introduce workers to healthy food options. Imagination has been celebrated through a morale-building trip to the Child Creativity Lab in Costa Mesa, where the team built custom robots.
Nearly all the research on corporate wellness backs Savio’s play. One large meta-study published in 2010 found that for every dollar a company spends on wellness programs, it saves $3.27 in medical costs, and almost that much again in absentee costs. Savio understands the finances and sees the value in creating a workplace environment that future employees find attractive. But for Savio, the decision to invest in the long-term health of her workers was pure instinct. “We have people who have been here for 25, 30 years,” she says. “They are like family.”
What’s the result so far? According to Savio, productivity is up, pounds are down, and the camaraderie has never felt stronger. “Our wellness program has given Beach Drapery a little more of a youthful approach. People like to see that the company they work for is in tune with what is happening in the world that exists beyond these four walls. Window treatments can only be so exciting.”
And if she ever needs a benchmark to determine if her ideas are making a difference, she can always ask her father.
“At times he thinks I’m a little out there, but he is proud of the changes he has seen in some of the employees that have been here for a long time,” she says.
MY NEIGHBORHOOD: I live in Lake Forest. I grew up spending most of my time in Laguna Beach, but I grew up in Newport Beach as well. I went to San Diego State University and then graduated from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in advertising and communications.
FAVORITE WORKOUT: I have done it all: spin, hot yoga, CrossFit. It depends on what I need in my life. Sometimes it’s easier when I go to Orangetheory. I show up and they tell me what to do. Yoga is very relaxing and very good at calming your mind down. That is important when you’re running a business. And sometimes I just like to go for a run because I want to be outside.
MY SOURCE OF INSPIRATION: My son Dominic is all in when it comes to trying something new. I feel like he has been a big part of the reason for my interest in fitness. I’m way more willing to try the next thing because he is like that.
HELICOPTER VERSUS FREIGHT TRAIN: I don’t know if you’d call me a helicopter parent. I am much more direct with my son, possibly more than he would like. I am hard on him. I have really high standards for myself. I believe that if you put the hard work in now and you’re used to putting in the extra work, that will be
ON MY NIGHTSTAND: I’m trying to be more avid of a reader to set a good example for my son. “Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection” by Debora Spar is next on my list. It takes “Lean In” to the next level and explores how women have evolved in business.
SPEAKING OF LEANING IN: I’m a big fan of Sheryl Sandberg. I think she is someone that everyone can find relatable to a degree. And she is a great example for women in business. I’m a mom. I’m a stepmom. I run my business. I have a kid in sports. I’m very active. I have a husband and family. It is definitely not easy to do it all, but with more women in business, it’s becoming the norm.
WINE BUYERS, NOT CELLARS: I wouldn’t say we have a traditional wine collection, but we definitely have a collection of the brands we like. There is a great place in Mission Viejo on the lake called Hidden Vine that has a ton of great smaller wineries. They know their customer and what they like. We get the opportunity to taste a lot of different things.
FEMALE FELLOWSHIP: I’ve made most of my friends as I’ve been an adult. My friend group is pretty diverse, but I think the majority of my friends are working moms. They are all at different stages in their careers, but I would say we all have that in common.