One of my biggest mentors in business is also someone I'm proud to call a close friend - Gerald Olesker, founder of ADG, Architectural Detail Group. As the name of his company might tip you off, Gerald works in the architectural and design industry and today gives me a glimpse into that world, some of its behind the scenes challenges, and why he wishes Albert Einstein had been one of his clients.
Hillary Gadsby: What drew you to starting your own business in design?
Gerald Olesker: This business is my third business in the lighting manufacturing space. And as an entrepreneur, I have had several other businesses including a restaurant.
Originally, I just wanted to be an architect. So, I figured that the more architects and designers I could meet, the better architect I would be. Lighting was a great vehicle to meet, design, and fabricate for homes, hotels and resorts while networking with lots of architects at the same time. So literally, I have walked a few more than just a mile in “his” shoes - I've been all over Beverly Hills, Malibu, Westchester County in New York, and Chicago! To date, I have personally touched over $3 billion in real-estate around the globe, designed/ manufactured for over 1,000 projects. It is addicting and fun.
HG: What was one of your most challenging projects to work on and what made it such a challenge?
GO: You would think that historic projects are challenging, but they are actually easy for us. I put myself in the mindset of the original architect and then design accordingly. A recent challenge was the remodel of the Manhattan Country Club. The central fixture is an 8 foot tall six foot wide a-symmetrical sculpture of large intersecting coins – and energy efficient in both how it was manufactured and can be used. It floats with no center shaft from a skylight and is the crowning piece of that room. We also had to design the fixture so it would be broken down to fit into the front doors of the club for installation. Here is a video of the completed project with many other fixtures of ours too – all designed for budget, look and time of delivery for MCC.
HG: What is the worst thing that ever happened to you in business and how did you overcome it?
GO: We had a customer decide prolong paying his bill. He stroked everyone on the project including the designer – a good friend. So, by the power of TMZ, we told this former athlete that if he did not pay his bill after the one year we were auctioning off his fixtures on TMZ. He paid his bill the next day – and ordered more. This is house #2 of his we have completed and it is now for sale at a starting price of $10 million+. These types of projects can be a lot of fun when all is going great but you do need to pay for the services! I can’t point to the home directly because that may embarrass him, but your readers can go through our blog and see lots of homes of the rich and famous that do pay their bills.
HG: Name one person you look up to that inspires you.
GO: It's a combination of persons - Albert Einstein because of his philosophy on science and religion, Henry Samueli for his abilities to be generous to the community at large, and Haim Saban for building a billion dollar empire from nothing. The latter two are clients and I wish Einstein could have been a client too.
GO: Ecco men's shoes because founder Karl Toosby created a culture and a firm based on a dream and direction. Better, faster and different. Also, Ecco stands behind every shoe and is committed to that assurance. I love my Ecco shoes – all of them!
HG: What makes you passionate about architecture and design?
GO: We live in the built environment. We interact in and out of the hard edge of buildings and the soft edge of the landscape. Architectural Detail Group, Inc. & ADG Eco Lighting is a collaborative group enhancing the built environment's needs through positive relationships.
Find out more about Gerald and get started with ADG by visiting his website!