Jay Steinfeld is the founder and CEO of Global Custom Commerce, a direct marketing and technology company with tools to sell and service hard-to-buy, configurable products and services. One of the company's owned websites, Blinds.com, is the current industry leader in online window covering sales.
Early Life and Education
Jay Steinfeld (b. December 8, 1953) was born in Jersey City, New Jersey and spent his early life in Rutherford, New Jersey. His family moved to Dallas, Texas, when he was 11. He displayed an early interest in entrepreneurship, starting several ventures in high school including one selling custom t-shirts.
After several successful businesspeople in Steinfeld’s community advised he study accounting in order to more successfully run his own business, Steinfeld received a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting from the University of Texas. He graduated with Honors in 1976 and began working for accountancy firm KPMG-Peat Marwick. Steinfeld worked for KMPG for three years, but was not entirely satisfied.
I knew... that accounting was not something I was interested in… That was not creative or something that was inspiring.
— Jay Steinfeld, “Window Into Web 3.0: Blinds.com CEO Jay Steinfeld.
Meineke Discount Mufflers
In 1979, Steinfeld moved to Houston, Texas, and began working for the Meineke Discount Mufflers franchisor as VP of Finance. While at Meineke, Steinfeld developed a targeted marketing program that helped find franchises in smaller markets. He also worked to clarify franchise contracts to increase accountability. During Steinfeld’s seven-year tenure, Meineke Discount Mufflers grew from 35 franchises to over 900 locations nationwide.
Steinfeld cites his time at Meineke Discount Mufflers as the inspirational experience he sought at KPMG-Peat Marwick.
I was learning much more about business than by auditing companies… I loved seeing the growth. I loved seeing the ability to establish a formula of success, which is what a franchise is.
— Jay Steinfeld, “Window Into Web 3.0: Blinds.com CEO Jay Steinfeld.
Steinfeld left Meineke following their 1983 acquisition by GKN.
While working at Meineke Discount Mufflers, Jay Steinfeld explored the possibility of franchising window coverings businesses. After leaving Meineke, Steinfeld and his wife decided to purchase and run a chain of drapery and blinds stores called Laura’s Draperies. Following the birth of the third Steinfeld child in 1990, Steinfeld merged the businesses into one location and took sole responsibility for store management.
In 1993, Steinfeld read an article in a trade magazine about the World Wide Web. He decided to set up a website, www.Lauras.com, and establish an online presence for his physical Laura’s draperies location. The original website did not include e-commerce components; instead it displayed an advertisement for the store and a detailed catalog of products. Steinfeld started selling his products online in 1996 after investing $3,000 to have a second website, www.NoBrainerBlinds.com, built to make “buying blinds and shades a no-brainer.” While online ordering marginally increased traffic, Steinfeld remembers, “...hoping for a sale a day back then.”
At the time, Steinfeld was the only employee of NoBrainerBlinds.com. He took phone calls on his personal cell phone while driving to and from Laura’s Draperies appointments. Although he was manually inputting customer information, Steinfeld utilized answering services and template forms to make the business seem more established.
In 2001, with the increasing success of his internet venture, Steinfeld sold Laura’s Draperies to focus on his online business. He acquired Blinds Wholesale, another e-commerce window covering retailer based in St. Augustine, FL, that allowed online purchasers to use a shopping cart feature that automatically tallied the prices of selected products.
In 2004, Steinfeld supplemented NoBrainerBlinds.com and Blindswholes.com with the website “blinds.com.” The company gained quick recognition and was named as one of the internet’s fastest growing “e-tailers” by Internet Retailer in 2005.
Steinfeld created and maintains a business model that encourages associates to adhere to four core values. The values are: 1) Improve Continuously, 2) Experiment without Fear of Failure, 3) Be Yourself and Speak Up, and 4) Enjoy the Ride. They form the basis of Blinds.com’s strong sense of corporate culture, which has been recognized by Houston’s Best and Brightest Companies to Work for in the Medium Business Overall category.
In January 2014, Blinds.com was acquired by national home improvement retailer The Home Depot.
Global Custom Commerce, Inc. (GCC)
GCC is a 20-year old technology and direct marketing organization, which specializes in driving the sales of hard-to-buy configurable products. Its e-commerce platform was built in-house and the company operates from a domestic-based contact center operation.
Acquired in January 2014 by The Home Depot, this wholly owned B2B subsidiary drives seamless integration of home-improvement retail via internet, over the phone, and in physical Home Depot locations.
The culture of Global Custom Commerce is highly entrepreneurial, dedicated to transforming retail as well as its associates.
Although the company specialized in window treatments, its intention is to expand its configurable product and service categories.
Steinfeld is actively involved in several charitable organizations in and around Houston, Texas. He also works with the Los Angeles, California-based XPrize Foundation as a member of their Innovation Board. The Innovation Board defines the annual XPrize Grand Challenge and determines areas of focus for the XPrize Board of Trustees’ Visioneering.
Steinfeld is also involved with the Prison Entrepreneurship Program, in which executives volunteer their time to meet with inmates in Texas prisons to help them understand business and increase their odds of success outside of prison.
“It’s true; these folks’ behavior caused their incarceration, but they are taking active steps to better themselves and leave that past behind them. Next time you feel sorry for yourself or make a mistake, remember it’s never too late to learn from it and move on.”
— Jay Steinfeld, on his work with PEP, How Going to Prison Made Me a Better CEO.
Additionally, Steinfeld speaks about the importance of corporate culture and authentic core values at engagements nation-wide.
Steinfeld also sponsors company-wide fundraising initiatives benefitting organizations such as Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the Wounded Warrior Project, the Houston S.P.C.A., Habitat for Humanity, and AIDS Foundation Houston.
In 2006, Jay Steinfeld was honored as the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year. He has written a regular column called Chief Effective Officer for Inc.com since 2011.
On May 14, 2014, the Houston Technology Center honored Steinfeld with its Lifetime Achievement Award.
His engagement on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram earned Steinfeld a spot on LinkedIn’s 2014 “Top 60 CEO’s on Social Media.”
Blinds.com, one of Steinfeld’s companies, has been featured on the National Association of Business Resources’ Best and Brightest Companies to Work For list every year since 2012. Additionally, Blinds.com was ranked #10 Best Company to Work for in Texas in March 2016.