A ‘Royal’ family business

Not your average “family” business – the high-end kitchen appliance supplier Royal Green has many roots and even more branches.

Launched in 1995 by three partners — Stuart Royal, Jay Greenspan and Ron Satran — the Royal Green appliance business has its flagship store in White Plains. But its reach extends from mid-New Jersey to Hartford, says Rob Satran, who now owns the company with Royal and who is Greenspan’s cousin.

The original partners had actually bought an existing firm, Leibert Brothers, which had been in business since 1948. To retain Leibert’s loyal clientele, they kept the name, running the new company as Leibert’s Royal Green. But when they opened their second location in Tribeca six years ago, they finally dropped the Leibert’s. Royal Green Appliances Center was more than ready to stand alone. 

Which it does just impressively. Because Royal Green is not your average retailer. Here is a company that places as much emphasis on pre- and after-sales service as on the quality of the appliances it selects and sells. With 20,000 square feet of displays in its White Plains showroom and 3,500 square feet in Tribeca, the company has also recently taken over Mr. Jay Appliances and Elgot Kitchens — both legacy brands within the industry — which, while keeping their names, now operate as divisions of Royal Green from its third location in Williston Park on Long Island. 

Along the way, Royal Green has also hoovered up — forgive the appliance-themed pun — two other legacy brands, Krup’s Kitchen & Bath and Dial-a-Brand, all now operating under a sizeable umbrella. While other businesses have struggled to stay afloat during the pandemic or sadly — and in too many cases — been forced to close entirely, Royal Green has doubled in size in the last year. “Apart from PC Richards, we’re probably the biggest retailer in the tristate area by volume,” says Satran.

Sexing up the kitchen

It’s quite a collection for this unique retailer, 80% to 90% of whose business is generated by the trade. Every major architect, design firm, kitchen cabinetmaker and general contracting firm knows of Royal Green, but that is not to say the private residential customer isn’t welcome to shop there, too.

All this was borne out on a recent visit to the White Plains store, where the handsome retractable awnings outside, displaying Royal Green’s distinctive logo, suggest an upscale restaurant or resort hotel, rather than your average kitchen appliance warehouse.

Once inside, though, apart from the sheer size of the space, even the most kitchen-averse, thermophobe would find it hard not to be swept away. 

In the impressive aisles stand broad, six-burner stove tops, their heavy iron grates just crying out to be stroked. Top-of-the range ranges and slick double ovens, with state-of the art technology and fingertip controls, jockey for position. There are knobs to fondle and silk-smooth faucets to caress. Who says kitchens aren’t sexy?

And then there are the fridges and freezers, built of shimmering stainless steel, many seductively glass-fronted, with freezer drawers that positively purr when you open and close them, the glide so smooth you could open a full drawer with your pinkie. You don’t even need to be in the market for a kitchen to be swept away by this place.

Although Royal Green is known as a high-end independent dealer, selling upscale brands such as Sub-Zero, Wolf, Viking, Thermidor, Gaggenau and Miele, it also has an institutional division that handles universities, Columbia and NYU among them. Memorial Sloane-Kettering is another customer, whom Royal Green supplies with perfectly fine but less elite brands, like Frigidaire and Hotpoint. “It’s what keeps the trucks moving every day,” says Satran.


At your service

But it’s not just about the brands. Royal has its own, dedicated customer service department, even though it is not a manufacturer — extremely unusual to find anywhere, let alone in the triState area. This provides a kind of double insurance. “If something goes wrong with an appliance, for the life of the product, whether it is warrantied or not, we want you to call us,” Satran explains. “We provide almost a concierge service.” 

A quick call to Royal Green and it will liaise with the manufacturer to set up a suitable time for the engineer to call, a boon to people who work outside the home or who don’t have hours to spend on the phone trying to get through to a manufacturer — notoriously difficult to do. It also warranties the products, which means selling service contracts for products that Royal Green will service, one of the few suppliers licensed to do so in the state of New York. (A license is necessary in order to do this, since Royal Green is essentially selling its own insurance policy.)

But perhaps the most interesting aspect of all is that Royal Green is a “family” business in the widest sense. Most family businesses, Satran explains, are vertical. “You begin with the grandfather and grandmother who started it and then the son and daughter, and they have children of their own who come into the business.” But Royal Green has something unique — “a horizontal approach.”

Following on from the original relationship of the cousins, there are now nine different family relationships, all under the Royal Green banner. For example, Jeff Mazin, one of  the minority partners, brought his son Daniel into the business in Sales. Then, Alfred Esposito, also in Sales, brought in his daughter, Shannon. Next up, eight years ago, they took on a new sales guy, Matthew Karabaic, who, two years ago, introduced his son, Matt Jr. Moe Green, a warehouse manager brought in his uncle, Eddie Richburgh, who is a driver for the firm. Sergio, assistant warehouse manager: His father, Jesus, is another driver. Traci Shemonosky, director of business development: Her sister-in-law is now a logistics coordinator. And the list goes on — culminating with Satran’s son-in-law, Kevin, now working in the firms Tribeca location.

Naturally, this speaks volumes for the culture within the company. Employees I spoke to mentioned not only how Royal Green was a great place to work, but how this extended familial structure gave them a feeling of “investment” in the company.

The reason Royal Green’s name is not known to the same extent as other retailers is the simple fact that it doesn’t market to the consumer. But while Satran stresses over and over that the company is not an e-tailer, it is nevertheless a bricks-and-mortar retailer from whom you can buy direct. 

And that to me seems a kitchen secret worth remembering.

For more, visit royalgreenny.com.

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