For 39 years, the Lednums have pioneered a business that’s more about family than it is furniture
When Bobbi and Wayne Lednum refer to their business, Creative Concepts, as “a family business,” they mean it. For them, it’s all about the family.
The couple opened their first furniture and window-dressing store during the coastal boom of the early 1970s. In 1973, they began in a little strip-mall shopping center on Bethany Beach’s south side. They had three school-aged sons. Almost four decades later, three generations of Lednums now work in their Ocean View and Lewes stores and in the company’s warehouse in Frankford.
The success of Creative Concepts is in the philosophy of family, according to Wayne Lednum, who created the business with his wife, Bobbi. “The reason we’re still here after 39 years,” he claims, “is that we all work at it. It’s a puzzle we had to put together, and we all worked to fit the pieces in place. We still work at it, every day.”
Perhaps most paramount is how eldest son Craig sums up the family and store dynamics. “Everybody in this entire organization is important,” he explains. “Everybody has their part and does their part.”
“The rewarding thing about truly being a family business,” Wayne added, “is that you get to spend time with your children working. The subtleties of the work environment tend to be the same as the family’s. There are so many positives. We have a strong family work ethic, and we all care about one another.”
No matter where you look at either locale, you see a Lednum by birth or marriage. Family matriarch Bobbi Lednum runs the Lewes store. Gail, brother Steve’s wife, is lead designer, in charge of the sharp, inviting vignettes of furnishings spread across both showrooms. Two grandsons, Justin and Cory, work in the warehouses, and they got their start the same way.
“It’s not assumed that you’re going to be in the family business,” Wayne explains. “The younger ones have to come to us and ask to work here. We have a round-table discussion about it. Their commitment has to be for at least one year. They can’t quit ‘til then, either.”
Wayne proudly proclaims “the family bond and support for each member of the family even carries over to the workforce at Creative Concepts. The workers reflect that same effort.”
It’s easy for employees to feel that they are an integral part of the growing Lednum enterprise. In 2002, Wayne and Bobbi treated all of their workers — some 25 people at the time — to a new Simmons mattress set. “We wanted each and every one of them to get a better night’s sleep,” Bobbi explained.
That Lednum camaraderie, closeness and generosity are felt even by their customers. Many of them have become employees who embrace the family’s work ethic.
The metamorphosis of Creative Concepts has spanned nearly four decades in four different buildings. The first store focused on window products and beach furniture. Craig was just 16 at the time, installing shades and blinds before he even had his driver’s license. They are still so adept at their window business that at the time of this interview, a team of Creative Concepts workers were in Florida, installing window treatments at a home belonging to one of their local and obviously faith-ful customers.
For the Lednums, the adage “Family Business” comprises a strong and true promise. Craig and his brother, Steve, were both designers in the stores’ earlier days. Craig now handles marketing and the sales operations of both stores for the company. The Lednum’s middle son, Steve, is responsible for the warehouse, store deliveries and the intricate role of dealing with customers following their sales and delivery. Youngest son Scott maintains the properties and was key to building Creative Concepts’ flagship location, at the corner of Rte. 26 and 17.
Family members joke that Craig is their leader. He cringes when he hears that, asserting he’s “just another Lednum doing what he’s supposed to do.” Craig and Wayne both act as the store buyers for their product lines and inventory.
The Lednum Family’s way of doing things has not only kept them close, their talents are solidly visible in the inimitable look of the company’s two stores. Vast floor space seems cozy and lifelike, with stunning vignettes and furniture groupings juxtaposed across the multiple showrooms. Nothing appears to be duplicated. Yet, any look, feel, fashion and fabric can emerge readily on hand. The art of dressing windows, the original staple of the family’s first store, continues as a vital part of Creative Concepts’ specialties and flair. They remain the only actual Hunter Douglas Gallery of window treatments on the coastal Eastern Shore.
You don't see many genuine three-generation family-owned-and-operated businesses anymore, not even on the Shore, which is so rich in family tradition. “We did it and do it as a family,” Wayne said. “But we had a lot of help along the way.”
The Lednums were able to finance their Lewes building through Delaware’s “Jobs Bonds.” Both banking institutions, Sussex Trust and the County of Sussex lent their individual powers. “It took a village,” Wayne admitted with his modest and sincere smile.
That humility and genuine appreciation for what others do for him has helped shape the philosophy and direction of the Lednum family and their business. Wayne and Bobbi share over 55 years of marriage together. Between the undaunted dedication to each other and their family, and an unwavering determination to truly serve customers as if they were
members of that family, you don’t need to ponder what makes Creative Concepts an exclusive and exceptional success.
It’s all in the family, and it’s been that way for 39 years.
CREATIVE CONCEPTS, 302-539-6989 /302-645-6200
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