At Home with Houseworks

If you saw the September issue of Active Life Magazine, you may have recognized the familiar face behind Houseworks. Our very own Ed Cheikh was the cover story. Here it is below incase you missed it: 

Active Life Magazine Cover Story - Houseworks

These days, a mention of Gary, Indiana, usually brings to mind one of three things: the birthplace of the Jackson Five, urban blight and racial tension, or a bygone hub of steel manufacturing. (It also brings to mind a much-to-catchy song from The Music Man.) But for Ed Cheikh, owner of Houseworks (4905 E. 82nd St., Indianapolis), childhood memories of Gary during the 1950s and 1960s paint a positively different picture. It was a time when the city was buzzing with prosperous steel mills and a diversity of population that worked together to keep the mills and the community humming. “Growing up, I was introduced to so many diverse ideas, languages and foods, all right on my street,” he says. “On my block alone, the smells from the Greeks cooking, and the Serbians and the Polish food— It was a nice upbringing.”

He recalls having his hair cut by an Italian barber and buying food from an abutting Jewish grocer. “It was a time when people sat on their porches,” he goes on. “Mills were paying well, and the families stuck together.” And yes, Ed worked at the steel mills for a time as young man. But he assures me, as much of a romantic picture as it would frame, that he did not grow up thinking he would own a furniture store. Instead, the story of Houseworks is one of a successful business venture begun by two international businessmen who just happened to appreciate quality, modern designs— and which Ed had the navy to develop into the thriving, customer-centered furniture business that Houseworks is today.

DISCOVERING HOME

Upon graduation from college, Ed Cheikh wasted no time in building his international career, founding a company that did business in the Middle East. “That first business didn’t end up doing too well,” Ed tells me. Around that same time, however, the United States government initiated a program to connect business people with overseas sales experience with American manufacturers doing international trade. As a Senior Trade Director of Indiana Export, a non-profit founded as part of his initiative, Ed worked successfully with a number of Indiana manufacturers in there international business efforts. After federal funding ran out, however, Ed explains that he and his supervisor, John Babbitt, decided to strike out on their own. “We became partners and picked up the companies we’d been working with” Ed says.

Meanwhile, on the home front, Ed married his wife, Cindy— and here’s where the Houseworks tory starts to take shape. What’s one of the first things on a  couple’s list once vows are exchanged and there’s a roof over two newly wedded heads? Furniture, of course. “I moved to Indianapolis from Chicago, and we were looking for futnirue in a more cosmopolitan style,” Ed says. “There was very little in terms of modern-style furniture back here in 1982.”

After making some purchases up in Chicago and hauling them back home, Ed and his business partner John, who was from the East Coast, had the thought to open a modern furniture store right here in Indianapolis. “There seemed to be a void,” Ed says, “and we thought people would line up, like to water in a desert.” Boy, were they wrong. “Back then, most people walked in and said, ‘What is this stuff?’ It’s like we’d dropped from Mars.” Indianapolis in the early 1980s just wasn’t ready for the modern furniture scene. Not surprisingly, Houseworks, which began in 1985 as a side business to the manufacturing consulting business Ed and John still had, didn’t start off well. Ed explains that on its own, Houseworks would have bankrupted itself—it was the other company keeping it afloat.

A decision had to be made, and when his wife became pregnant, Ed figured that the extensive travel that came with his international business needed to come to an end—for his family’s sake. That’s when Ed decided to sell off his portion of the consulting business to his partner and give everything he had to the Houseworks enterprise.

Active Life Magazine | Cover Story: Houseworks | September 2017

Active Life Magazine | Cover Story: Houseworks | September 2017

A NEW DAY FOR HOUSEWORKS

With a baby on the way, Ed dedicated the lion’s share of his time and energy to the furniture store’s success. “Little by little, with the help of my team, we figured it all out,” he says. “When you’re on the ground and you want it to succeed, you listen to your customers, and you figure out what’s possible and what’s not. You correct problems immediately. It’s no longer an absentee ownership scenario.”

Houseworks made a series of moves that carried them to successfully larger showrooms. In those early years, they operated out of a small Broad Ripple space. “The trucks would unload sofas on College Ave. and take them down to our basement warehouse,” Ed recalls.
From Broad Ripple, Houseworks moved to the Clearwater Shoppes on 82nd Street, followed later by a move to their longtime location at 82nd and Allisonville. This spring, Houseworks settled into an even larger space, more suitable to the store’s lush,modern showrooms, and offering friendlier parking for Houseworks’ clients, just a little farther west at 4905 E 82nd. To stay competitive in this fastpaced world of convenience and online everything, Ed and his staff strive to bring perennially fresh, innovative offerings to customers.

“You can never completely relax when you’re concerned with bringing people through the door,” he says. At the same time, the staff works hard to ensure that everything coming in those doors fits with the store’s current looks. I asked Ed if he had any thoughts on a certain highly successful, international modern furniture store opening in Fishers this fall. “If anything, having them in town will introduce more of Indianapolis to the beauty and versatility of the modern look,” Ed tells me. “What we offer at Houseworks is a personalization and service that we give based on customer relationships. Our employees have been with us a long time—some as long as 25 years— and they know our customers well.” With a staff of only 11 employees, Ed says the company operates like a family—something that’s unusual for a retail business, he adds.

STRIKING A BALANCE

Even after 32 years, Ed says there’s still never a typical day on the job. “As CFO, I do the marketing,” he explains, “but if no one else is around and there’s a truck to unload, I run over to the warehouse and start unloading… it’s just not an 8 to 5 endeavor.” So if that’s the case, where does life balance enter into the picture for Ed? Once again, it’s his devotion to family that saves the day. Well, his devotion to family—and food. “My wife and daughter and I can all cook, so when we get together, it’s really centered around that,” he says. “We’re definitely foodies.” I learned the hungry way—get Ed to talking about his family’s culinary adventures, and your taste buds will hold you hostage to keep listening. “Last week my daughter and her fiancé came over for dinner,” he starts. “I took heirloom tomatoes, infused sweet corn with garlic and lemon, and in the same water infused the salmon… added some arugula and red onion, along with zaatar—a Middle Eastern spice— and served that up for dinner.” Mouth. Watering.

In this high-velocity world of instant gratification we’re living in, the importance that Ed places on spending time around the dinner table with family shines some light on his philosophy of happiness. He tells me of his 82-year old cousin who does spin classes and climbs mountains—and skis. “He’s the epitome of a body in motion stays in motion,” Ed says, incredulously. And while he hasn’t had much time to go sailing these days—a pastime he picked up in his previous life of international business—he still makes time each morning for 20 minutes of meditation. “When I’m having a happy day, nothing’s happened,” he says. “I can stop and smell the roses. That’s happiness.”

So the next time you find yourself in the neighborhood, stop in to see Ed and the staff at Houseworks. Take your time to smell the proverbial roses. And don’t hesitate to hit up Ed for some kitchen advice—or thoughts on this great merry-go-round we call life.

How well do you know Houseworks?

Houseworks has been in business for almost 27 years. What is the secret to long lasting business? A few things that the company can attest to is to create a sense of family and community for staff and customers. Many of the staff members have been with the company for 10+ years. Houseworks understands the importance of family and needs outside of the workplace. The staff really gets to know its customers and their needs as well. The sales associates are welcomed into the homes of customers to help decide on their product choices as well as finishes for the room.

Below is a profile of some of the staff at Houseworks. Each month the staff picks their favorite furniture piece and shares a little insight to who they are. Check out the five members below…more to follow!

Dustin

Dustin has worked with the Houseworks team for 9 1/2 years. He loves his job and the people he works with- “we are a big family here at Houseworks”.

When we asked Dustin to pose with his favorite piece at Houseworks he chose the Lisben recliner. Dustin says “It is the most comfortable recliner in the store”.

With our hectic lives and the stress of the economy we asked the staff to dream about their favorite place to retreat to-Dustin’s is golfing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jillian

 

 

 

One thing Jillian wants Houseworks customers know is that she can be funny or serious. “Interior Design is my passion. I graduated from the Art Insitute of Pittsburgh with a degree in Interior Design and I am currently working towards my NCIDQ certification.”

After a stressful day you will see Jillian at the gym! “After a long day I hit the treadmill or a dance class for a good work out.”

Jillian’s June favorite pick is the Jesper 500 series. She believes the clean lines and white lacquer finish give any work area personality and style. “We spend as much time at work as we do at home. Why not love both spaces equally?”

 

 

 

 

 

Brian

 

Brian has been with the Houseworks team for 15 Years!

To know Brian you know he is a big music fan. “I particularly enjoy the Down Tempo / New Jazz electronic music that sets vibe here at Houseworks”.

Brian is not a big fan of cold weather, so any place that is warm and the sun is shining is where Brian loves to retreat!

Brian is an avid reader which is why for the month of June Brian’s Housework pick is the Shaw bed and the Tolomeo light because a comfortable bed and a great reading light are essential.

 

 

 

 

 

David

At David’s request he had to take his photo with the Brand NEW Arrival at the Houseworks Warehouse-the 2-Seater David Sofa!

David loves Mid-Century Modern Design and that is why the David sofa is his June favorite pick! David has been on the Houseworks team for 2 1/2 years and “LOVES to sell American Made Products & A great deal of Houseworks products are just that”!

When David gets to relax he loves to “just kickback and play music with his friends-enjoying American Roots-Country”.

 

 

 

 

 

Andy

 

Andy-A.K.A. Houseworks Warehouse Manager & Profit Systems Administrator has been on the Houseworks team for 10 years! 10 years

One thing to know about Andy is that he is ” a big sports nut. I enjoy watching Formula 1 and rooting on my favorite teams. Notre Dame, the Colts, the Red Sox and the Boston Bruins. I am currently in my 6th year of playing the ancient sport of hurling for the Indianapolis Hurling Club”.
When Andy needs to get away from the desk, “I like to ride bikes with my wife and daughter or go to the park. I enjoy being outdoors. If I could go on vacation, I’d go back to Maine in a heartbeat”.

Andy’s June Furniture pick is- “The Lisbon recliner is my favorite piece because it’s the most comfortable chair we have and I could easily nap in it. Unfortunately, it won’t fit at my desk”…..Sshhhh-don’t tell Ed!

 

 

 

Another smiling face at Houseworks is Forrestine! A.K.A. Flo…has worked at Houseworks for 12 years!

“Back in the day, I was an avid Housework’s shopper, Ha ! Ha ! more like day dreamer. I loved going to Housework’s in Broadripple….I would go once every month or so just to get my monthly fix of modern furniture. The Modern furniture in Housework’s inspired me to become a welder / furniture maker”.

When thinking of her ideal retreat, “I would love to visit Milan….( The Capital of Contemporary / Modern furniture)…to be in that atmosphere would be intoxicating…..”!

The Twist Sectional is Flo’s June pick because it is “the epitome of what I believe Modern furniture is…sleek, and sophisticated….”

Welcome: Houseworks-Providing Award Winning Quality, Service & Style to Indianapolis Since 1985

Houseworks is proud to launch our blog site! For 25 years Houseworks has been happy to provide Indianapolis with great modern design. From Broadripple to Keystone at the Crossing to Castleton, we have developed great relationships with our customers. Throughout the years we have stayed consistent with the philosophy of form follows function with simple expressions. We want to extend our design practices and knowledge in a new format and hear from those who want to extend thoughts and ideas about our store and products. We will keep this updated weekly with design tips, product features, and events at the store.

We welcome you to comment and ask questions. We want to hear from you!

Thank you to everyone for making Houseworks a huge success!