The year was 1998. After working in the international furniture and fabric industry in Toronto for several years, the husband and wife duo of Jerry and Angela Clarke decided it was time to return to Barbados and use the knowledge and experience they’d gained to start something new—Dillon Amber Dane (D.A.D). From its inception, the company sought to answer the market’s call for stylish and quality furniture that was almost non-existent on the island at the time.
Fast forward 20 years, and D.A.D is a thriving, family-owned, multi-brand retailer that is recognised as a trendsetter, thanks to its emphasis on design, functionality, and high standard of quality. And with the company’s sights set firmly on continuously moving forward, Angela hints at more to come: “The sky is the limit!” she declares.
This year, you celebrate Dillon Amber Dane’s 20th anniversary. What thoughts and emotions come to mind when you think about that?
I get very emotional about this because this is our baby! We feel blessed and extremely proud of where we started and where we are today.
What was your vision for D.A.D. in 1998, and how have you met or surpassed that vision?
Our vision for the company was to create a unique, successful business that offers products and services that are a benefit to Barbados and the Caribbean. We believe we have met those goals, but where we surpass is in the core values we bring to the business, which are based on our family values such as trust, integrity and appreciation.
What made you start D.A.D? Tell us a bit about that process. Where did you draw the inspiration to start?
We were living in Canada and the winters were getting to us. We had two choices: stay, or return to Jerry’s homeland; we chose the latter. We packed our belongings and three children and set off to Barbados to start our new life. Neither of us had a job to go to, but once we started working we knew it was difficult punching someone else’s clock, not to mention that we saw things differently and were outspoken about many things!
Tell us about the decision to create a family business; how it moved in that direction.
It started with Jerry and I, but we had hoped that the children would be interested in the business that was their namesake. Thankfully, they all were! It was a natural progression; they all moved back up to Canada to further their studies and to gain valuable work experience and two out of the three returned when they felt the timing was right. Amber has taken up her role and is involved with Sales, Marketing, Administration, and Buying. Dillon, who has just returned, is involved with Sales, Design and Project Management.
And of course, tell us the story behind the name.
Everything happens for a reason. When we were playing around with names, we threw out many suggestions, but they didn’t feel right. It was Jerry’s suggestion that we use the children’s names, and the one that rolled off our tongues was Dillon Amber Dane.
In what ways has D.A.D. grown over the past 20 years?
We started in commercial furnishings and introduced and established many brands but did not want to just stay there. In 2002, we added the residential furnishings and kitchens, and later the appliances, to our portfolio. While we have concentrated on the Barbados marketplace, we have been successful in doing commercial and residential projects in the Caribbean.
What do you see as your biggest accomplishment since your start in 1998?
Two things: We were able to transfer knowledge internally and externally—internally as it relates to our staff and externally by educating clients on how to do things, new trends and design. It gives us great satisfaction to be able to improve the work or living space of a client by utilising the knowledge we have gained throughout the years. The second thing is maintaining who we are. As a company evolves, it’s easy for your work culture to change. But we are happy that throughout the years, even with the passing of the baton to the next generation, our core values have stood strong within the whole team. We have a lot of repeat business because of this and it’s further confirmation that we are doing the right thing. And we are still standing, despite the current economic struggles.
What is the overall goal of D.A.D; its mission?
To not get comfortable with where we are, but to aspire to higher goals and aspirations; staying ahead and always searching and learning so we can share new ideas and products with our clients.
Where do you expect to go in the next 20 years? In what ways do you expect or hope to grow?
To grow naturally and organically, not through a merger or acquisition. The next generation have their names on the wall; future growth depends on how well they lead and manage. The sky is the limit and we believe we have the business model to take our business in many directions. While I do not want to divulge all of our plans, I will say that we are currently pursuing other markets.
What are you doing to mark the anniversary event?
20 years! That is an accomplishment! We wanted to have a yearlong celebration. We started with a celebratory dinner party with our team and then followed with a huge storewide sale. We continued by sharing many tidbits, and stories through our Facebook and Instagram pages. And we are doing this issue of M People Barbados, and hopefully we have some more surprises to finish off the year.