Know yourself fully, your strengths and weaknesses, and apply that knowledge towards how you work.
Jonathan Citsay was born in Rahway, New Jersey. From a very early age, alongside a keen interest in carpentry, he also displayed a clear aptitude for business. Demonstrating this aptitude through his leadership skills and passionate drive for success, Jonathan started his career path at the University of Nevada. Here, he worked hard to achieve his degree in Business Administration, putting it to good use virtually immediately, whilst also managing to combine his two great passions of carpentry and business together.
Alongside his older brother Ryan Citsay, Jonathan founded CB Carpentry, a company that specializes in custom kitchen cabinets and closets. Since 2018, CB Carpentry has proudly served Las Vegas and the surrounding area. Jonathan cites his success to a combination of 3 key factors: an emphasis on eco-friendly materials, a constant effort to reduce the company’s carbon footprint, and a work ethic that goes above and beyond to create custom solutions for clients.
Where did the idea for CB Carpentry come from?
CB Carpentry came from the very strong alignment of interests and mentality between myself and my brother, Ryan. We have both been very business-driven individuals, and we’re both extremely passionate about using our leadership skills and ambitions to produce customer satisfaction.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Every day, from when I get up early in the morning to when I come home late, I am actively involved in the pursuit of customer satisfaction. Every minute of my workday, I find ways to engage with customers, both directly and indirectly, in order to be 100% certain that they received the best possible experience, as well as to set an example for everyone that says, ‘This is how CB Carpentry treats its clients!’
How do you bring ideas to life?
Every one of our customers receives a custom-made piece, and sometimes it can be difficult to bring about the motivation to ensure that not only do they receive a truly remarkable cabinet or closet, but also that it is truly unique compared to everything else we have done. In order to bring such ideas to life, we only need to look at the customers themselves: Who are they, as people? What do they like? What’s their style? Part of CB Carpentry’s commitment to customer satisfaction is truly getting to know our clients and bringing this out through their furniture in a collaborative effort between our company and our client.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I was just as excited about sustainable practices as I am adamant about their necessity in the business world. It’s cleaner, simpler, and, most importantly, much more long-term in its ideology.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Commitment to customers is one thing, but keeping yourself ‘on’ all day, is another entirely. The motivation that comes from doing your absolute best for the client will get you part of the way there, but innovating your own productivity is all about knowing yourself, through and through. I want to ensure that all of our clients walk away happy and that means that I am always looking for ways to improve and work hard for them.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell myself to start thinking about sustainability sooner. If I could go back and change one thing about my company’s history, it’s the notion that we didn’t start off as sustainable as we could in terms of our practices. It’s an absolutely vital issue today, and I feel like it will only become more of a concern as time goes on.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I am somewhat surprised at how few people agree with me on this, but I strongly prefer traditional furniture. Almost everyone I know likes the more modern stuff, and I understand where they’re coming from; that being said, when it’s made out of wood, it has that loving, personal touch that you simply don’t get when it’s mass-produced in a factory. Not to mention, longevity is also worthy of mention; I don’t know if we’ll ever find a way to make something that lasts longer than the traditional methods.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I get to know my clients on a personal level. Obviously I can’t interact with every single individual that does business with our company, but I still make it a point to ask the same questions to each new client whenever I can, over and over, to never stop pursuing getting to know them as people instead of just customers. Not only does it help to build a relationship with them, but it also helps to ensure that we tailor our products to their tastes better.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I think that businesses can only grow with a genuinely exceptional reputation, and this is something that you can’t fake, or find a shortcut to. Going above and beyond, especially when you’re just starting out as a business, is the key to getting that kind of a reputation through the word-of-mouth of your customers.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Not fully emphasizing sustainability from the get-go within my company. It was very hard to change how we did things at CB Carpentry after we had already gotten our feet off the ground, to switch to more sustainable practices after the starting point. Ever since then, I have gone from having sustainability in the back of my mind towards having it be the deciding factor in nearly everything I do.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I think there could potentially be a market for custom-made furniture, but oriented around a DIY setup where clients have more of an active role in the construction process.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Recently, I invested around $100 into a personal hobby craft project at home: I made myself a new kitchen shelf from scratch. If anything, it re-invigorated my love of the art of carpentry.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I’ve come to have a great appreciation for QuickBooks; there are a lot of elements at play in the carpentry business, and you need the best technological advantages in order to ensure you stay on top of the work.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Carpentry & Building Construction by Mark Feirer and John Feirer. It was my first foray into turning carpentry from a hobby into a full-blown career, and it was a great introduction to all of the essential concepts. If you are looking at carpentry as either a hobby or a career, this is a must-read book.
What is your favorite quote?
“Politeness and civility are the best capital ever invested in business” – P.T. Barnum
- Always put the customer first, no matter what.
- Sustainability is crucial now and will only become more important in the future.
- Know yourself fully, your strengths and weaknesses, and apply that knowledge towards how you work.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.