Good fortune can show up when you least expect it. For Salisbury’s Daniel Haugh, it came when he met Justin Barnes of FurnitureLand.
Sometimes, it seems like things are just meant to happen. Certain paths meant to cross, certain lives destined to intersect. If you speak with Daniel Haugh of Salisbury, that’s what he’ll tell you about his life and career with the Barnes family of FurnitureLand. Sure, there was a time when Daniel thought his future might not be so bright, but today the 35-year-old is a highly successful sales associate and design consultant who greets each day with a big smile. When he kisses his wife, Kelsy, and three children goodbye for the day and heads off to a job he loves in Delmar, another loving family is waiting for him.
We spoke with Daniel, to learn how he turned his life around, the secrets of his success and the role the FurnitureLand family played in that success.
Where are you from, Daniel?
I was born in Downers Grove, Illinois.
When did you arrive on the Shore?
We moved to Salisbury when I was about 10. I graduated from Wicomico High School in 1999. I have two brothers, and the three of us were raised mostly by my mother, who is an amazing woman. She did a great job as a role model and a mom. She was a first-grade teacher in Salisbury.
What did you do after high school?
I worked in construction and for a lot of restaurants. I actually enjoyed the food-service industry; I learned and did everything there, from busing and waiting tables to cooking in the kitchen, hosting and even banquet planning.
Why did you leave the industry?
I began to realize there wasn’t a future there for me, and I had developed some bad habits. I was drinking every day, to excess. One day, somehow, I was able to take a look at myself and see that I was becoming “that guy” — the guy who other people — decent people — would whisper about and shy away from. But I love people; I always have. I knew I didn’t want to be that guy.
So, what did you do about it?
Among other things, I saw Mark Bunting, the pastor of Emmanuel Wesleyan Church in Salisbury, a wonderful guy who I’d also gone to school with. He kind of confronted me, in a benevolent way, asking me when I was going to get serious and actually create a life that God and I could be proud of.
How did that lead to your job at FurnitureLand?
I am very blessed, because no matter what, I’ve always had people who believed in me. One of these people, a buddy of mine, knew Justin Barnes and recommended me to him as someone who was naturally talented, eager to learn and willing to work his butt off to make something of himself.
Were the Barneses, especially Justin, receptive to you at first?
From the first moment and every day since. On my first day, Justin took me under his wing and spent several hours with me, teaching me as many of the fundamentals as he could squeeze in. I worked the floor the next three days, kind of like an apprentice. On the fifth day, I went straight to 100 percent commission.
Did anyone else train or mentor you during those formative days?
Larry Ayers has had one of the largest impacts on my career here at FurnitureLand, and I consider him my mentor.
Larry still holds many FurnitureLand records for sales and is known for his fashion savvy in both clothing and home furnishings. From the very beginning, he adopted me into the family and even went as far as to give me some of his own clothing to help me “up my game” and look more fashionable when I was unable to afford clothing. This goes back to the family atmosphere that we have here. There is truly nothing like it.
To what do you attribute your success?
My faith is ultimately the foundation for my success. It is thanks to this faith that I believe all things are indeed possible and that can’t is only a state of mind.
Do you have a personal motto that inspires you?
Yes, I call it H.A.R.D., which is an acronym for Honesty, Attitude to win, Respect and Drive. If you play it H.A.R.D., everything else comes easily.
What role does the FurnitureLand environment play in supporting your success?
FurnitureLand is a true family business. The Barnes family saw something in me five years ago that I’m not even sure I completely saw myself. They genuinely cared about helping me to create my desired future for both me and my family.
As for the business environment, it is a salesperson’s dream. Where else can we have the confidence of knowing that everything is always in-stock, 100 percent, and available for immediate delivery the very same day. It’s so easy to be completely confident in, and proud of, your product when you have an exceptional company like this behind you.
I also do design consultation, which, believe it or not, I’m actually really good at. From a designer’s standpoint, I can achieve a full home makeover in 24 hours anywhere on Delmarva. I actually did one not long ago for an $800,000, three-level, 10-room house in Baltimore that was a very proud accomplishment for me.
No other retailer offers this level of support to their sales and design teams and this peerless level of service to their customers.
Is the design consultation a lucrative part of the business for you?
I do it for free. Like I said, I love people; I love making them happy; and I really love problem-solving.
What personal milestones have you been able to achieve as a result of your success at FurnitureLand?
In general, goal-setting is a discipline I’ve learned to embrace during my time at FurnitureLand.
Professionally, I am committed to redefining “the art of the possible.” This means that every time a benchmark is established by me or one of my peers or someone else in the industry, my goal is to exceed that benchmark.
Personally, this commitment to goal-setting and overall determination has aided me in supporting my family while my wife received her undergraduate degree in nursing, and it allowed us to eventually buy our first home, in Salisbury’s Willow Creek. For at least two years, I worked tirelessly, without a dollar in my pocket, but that was just fine, because my wife and kids had everything they needed financially.
Today, I walk out the front door in the morning, and I am in disbelief that we get to be neighbors with doctors, accountants, business owners, etc. The relationships I have formed with my clients have afforded me opportunities far beyond what I could have ever imagined. My customers’ willingness to allow me to make their lives more beautiful and comfortable has had the exact same impact on mine. Like I said, I am very blessed.
Editor’s note: FurnitureLand’s Daniel Haugh was named Best Interior Designer in Wicomico County for 2016 by the readers of Coastal Style Magazine.
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