Rashid Jalili, chief operating officer of Abbot Art in East Farmingdale, says producing frames locally -- rather than outsourcing the work overseas -- has given him an edge in landing contracts. His 4,500-square-foot framing, canvas-stretching and art-reproduction factory has won contracts with clients as disparate as Suffolk County government, Nathan's Famous Hot Dogs and the Warwick Hotel in Manhattan.
"When you outsource you have less quality control," he says.
Once a stock market analyst, Jalili, 36, now applies his MBA skills to predicting what the Long Island art market will need. His father, an engineer originally from Pashtan, Uzbekistan, had collected art most of his life and bought the 42-year-old company in 2001. Rashid joined him at the helm the same year.
What was key to growing your business?
We concentrate on quality and service. Of course, price is very important; it has to be competitive . . . but we never sacrifice quality or service for price. The majority of our customers have [come] through word-of-mouth.
What are the advantages of not outsourcing?
It is cheaper to outsource overseas, but you don't get the same quality and the same turnaround time. Your service will drop and the quality of your product always drops when you outsource. The finishes could be wrong, the canvas and molding could be weak. Now, if you bring us a thousand custom moldings, custom-sized frames, and you needed them in a week, we can actually finish that order. The faster turnaround time and better quality has helped us get more jobs.
How much of your business is framing?
The majority -- about 70 percent -- is the framing. Thirty percent is the art reproduction, the printing. We do printing for photographers, a variety of different artists. That's growing; it's getting bigger and bigger every year.
Has the art market on Long Island changed since the recession?
There's a lot less spending by the middle class, but the higher end, the fine art, has actually stayed the same or increased in sales. The majority of the money is being spent by corporations.
What is key to staying in business under those circumstances?
You've got to be a fighter, kind of like the "Rocky" movies. No matter what it takes. If it means you have to do a hundred frames and make the same profit you used to when you did 20 frames, you have to do it.