Susie Mummert takes family business to new heights
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Furniture Finesse’s Susie Mummert takes family business to new heights

After more than 20 years of running a business, Susie Mummert of Furniture Finesse feels like she’s ‘finally made it.’

>By Our York Media


Running a business runs in Susie Mummert’s blood.

She’s the fourth generation of business owners in her family. Her parents owned Helf the Carpetman, a York-based floor-covering store and taught her much of what she knows.

The rest, she says, she learned in the school of hard knocks.

Today, the owner of Furniture Finesse looks around the store she’s worked in her whole adult life and smiles.

“We’re busier than ever,” she says. But in a good way.

After more than 20 years of running a business, Susie no longer worries over the small, day-to-day intricate issues that an entrepreneur faces.

“It was so hard for so long – just grinding and grinding,” she says. “But now, I feel like I’ve finally made it.”

She’s come into her own, she says, but the journey wasn’t easy. 

Born and raised in business

Growing up, going into business was less of a choice than an expectation. She and her six brothers and sisters all worked for family enterprises. When she graduated West York Area High School in 1980, she joined the fold.

Her dad, Larry Helf, bought the building in which Furniture Finesse is housed back in 1980 to use for Helf the Carpetman.

There were four other retailers leasing space in the building at the time. Three years later one of those spaces became available and the family opened Windows, Walls, Wicker and Whatever – where Susie worked as a jack-of-all-trades. 

In 1997, a larger retail space in the building became available, so the family moved the business and renamed it Furniture Finesse.

Stepping up

But it wasn’t until about five years ago when her father passed away that Susie realized running Furniture Finesse was what she really wanted to do.

That’s when her father relinquished his stocks, and Susie took the helm of the furniture business alongside her sister-in-law.

Up until that point, Susie never felt that she had a chance to flex her muscles as a leader – with six siblings, parents and extended family, there were just too many chiefs.

Then, three years ago, Susie bought out her sister-in-law, making her the sole owner.

As such, she’s spending more time building her personal brand alongside the brand of her business, which helps remind customers that when they’re doing business with the store, that she has their back.

Learning what it takes to be a true leader

The transition hasn’t been without its growing pains.

“Probably the biggest thing was delegating responsibility and not doing everything myself,” Susie says.

To help her navigate the transition and come up with a long-term plan for Furniture Finesse, Susie hired business consultant Lisa Heintzelman, whom she met through the Women’s Network of York.

“She’s been my biggest mentor,” Susie said. “Lisa taught to work on the business rather than in the business.”

And Susie has taken this lesson to heart, growing her staff so she can focus on growing the business.

Furniture Finesse now has two designers on staff, Paula Pryor and Rhonda Dietrich; Susie’s husband, Mike, runs the service department; and her sister, Annie Smeltzer keeps the books. Susie also works frequently with Hunter Douglas Certified Installer Colin Ernie.

One of her proudest achievements thus far has been opening the Hunter Douglas Gallery at the store, which required three years of meeting sales goals, investing in the design of the exterior and interior of the store, conversations with members of the Hunter Douglas nominating committee as well as being secret shopped.

“I’ve always sold Hunter Douglas window fashions,” she said. “To be a gallery dealer is to be the highest level you can go with Hunter Douglas.”

Mission accomplished.

Branching out into the York community

Now, Susie is setting her sights higher: To be the prime furniture-decorating showroom in York.

She and her team will do that by catering to their clients from the start of the sale through delivery. 

“There’s nobody giving the service and expertise in our field that we are able to,” Susie says.

She always looking for opportunities to give back to the community she was born and raised in by facilitating donations to charities like Bell Family Shelter, the Salvation Army, ACCESS-York, and Veteran’s Helping Hands.

As her business grows, Susie’s proud to have the chance to make more of an impact locally, and she’s happy to play a role in York’s business renaissance.

“A lot more small businesses are coming alive, it’s nice to be a part of it and already have an anchor in the ground.”

Just like her parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, Susie’s passed on her passion for business to the next generation. Her 27-year-old daughter co-founded her own hair-styling business in Baltimore – Charm City Top Knots.

“I sort of wished I knew what she knew at her age,” Susie says. “She’s kind of like a chip off the old block. And we're coming into our own together – it just took me a little longer to get there.”

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