At the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), we certify LGBT-owned businesses that are just starting out, as well as those that have a very long history. That is the case for Küster Design, which is a 75-year-old Indianapolis based family business with its third-generation owner.
“Not very many family owned firms make it past generation two,” said owner & president James Kuester.
The company has pivoted from providing custom manufacturing for the construction, conveyor, and material handling industry to becoming a full-service interior design firm for small healthcare markets, residential kitchen, bath and wine cellar design.
Kuester decided to certify his business to be an example for other small LGBT-owned businesses, not just in Indianapolis, but also throughout the state of Indiana.
“I went through the certification process while president of the Indianapolis Rainbow Chamber of Commerce so I could speak first-hand about the process and encourage others to do likewise,” said Kuester. “Being an NGLCC LGBTBE has provided some wonderful opportunities and access to resources, people and experiences that I would not have had otherwise.”
Since joining the family business in 1989, James has helped both his father and aunt successfully plan for their retirement from the business, which has allowed the company to transition to its third-generation owner. During this time, Kuester shared that the company has been able “to pivot quickly as necessary in response to sudden economic changes such as 9/11, the Great Recession, and now COVID-19.”
Many companies have been working on ways to adapt during the COVID-19 pandemic, including Küster Design. They will be offering unique design solutions and products which will allow clients to redesign their offices to be more infection proof and help them return to those spaces.
In the years beyond this crisis, Kuester shared that he “[wants] to have a growing and talented managerial and design staff that is poised to carry the company toward its 100th anniversary with the formulation of a transition plan that will accommodate the first generation of non-founding family leaders.”
Kuester offered some advice for aspiring LGBT entrepreneurs looking to start their own business endeavors.
“Find really good advisors, meet with them regularly, and let them be your sounding board,” he said. “Don’t try to do this alone.”
By Jada Watson