Rene Pabon is President and CEO of The Childs Dreyfus Group – where he continues to foster an award winning culture driven to exceed expectations in interior architecture, merchandising and design. Rene has a deep understanding of what makes an environment special to Millennials, Gen Xers, Baby-boomers, developers and investors alike. Like the spaces he creates, Rene prides himself on making every client interaction memorable and valuable. Interior architecture and merchandising is a business, but Rene never shies away from making it a work of art as well. He prides himself on providing “the right finish to help the client get to the right close.”

Rene is a member of the Institute of Residential Marketing and has been published in leading industry publications such as Builder, Raising Standards, Student Housing Business, Build, Multifamily Real Estate News, Dwell and Professional Builder. He has been a guest speaker for NAHB as well as local affiliates in Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Florida.

Rene is a successful and proud business owner – but mostly, he’s a proud father to Becky, Antonio and Joey.

Where did the idea for Childs Dreyfus Group come from?

I purchased the company in 1994, and have since grown the company exponentially. We pioneered interior merchandising. Today, we’re an interior architecture firm that specializes in design and merchandising.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

When I’m not traveling or on-site with clients, I typically get up around 6:15 and workout, check email then head into the office. Once I’m in the office, I update my to-do list; I live on to-do lists.

Then, I jump right into working on projects and overseeing my team. Finally, I connect with clients and set goals for the next day.

How do you bring ideas to life?

A combination of things. I look at current trends and predictions – both from an industry related and non-industry related point-of-view. I really never want to look at what’s happening today – I prefer to look at what’s next. It keeps me focused on new opportunities.

I also surround myself with smart vendors and consultants.

Specific to design, I take pictures everywhere I go. In bars, nightclubs, restaurants, airports, etc….sometimes it’s the simplest things that can provoke a good idea so I want to make sure I capture interesting things around me.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

True integration of technology into the way people are living. This generation was born with a phone in their hand and we need to embrace that. It’s important to understand how the digital, 3D experience has changed everything about how we live – and I love what that means to interior architecture.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Watching and learning from young talent. Younger generations make us smarter and better – they stimulate conversations that result in opportunities you never thought you were capable of being a part of. If you use your experience and pair it with new ideas…the results are amazing.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Have thick skin and don’t be easily swayed by what others say.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody else knows?

I’m afraid of heights. And my company works on high rises. Kind of ironic, I know.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Start every day with a list. Constantly refer back to your past lists to ensure everything is really complete.  It’s easy to miss a few things – and the list is the only way to keep you (and your team) focused and honest.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

Following big business and money trends. It’s an easy way to predict the future – and ultimately be ready for change and growth opportunities. It requires a ton of reading, daily, but it’s the only way to stay ahead.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

When the housing market blew-up, I had too many eggs in one basket.  We were managing thousands of model home projects – until it abruptly stopped! Fortunately, I was left with a small book of business that managed to keep us alive while I emerged myself in studying the markets – and understanding where the money was going next. I worked closely with my core team and trusted colleges to discover new opportunities where our experience and expertise could carry us to new heights. Since then, I’m constantly looking ahead, staying diversified, and studying emerging markets. This failure actually made us a thousand-times stronger!

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I’m always thinking about that breakthrough “new idea”, but my heart is so deeply rooted in real estate and development, that I tend to drift right back to CDG and don’t ever have time to act outside the business.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I recently bought my son a mini drone. We’re still figuring it out – but that’s the best part! We can spend time together figuring it out.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

Salesforce, Studio designer and a proprietary dashboard that my team has crafted so I can see all social feeds/web analytics, etc. I’m on the road weekly, so connectivity to my accounts, projects and feeds are essential. With these 3 pieces of software, I feel like I’m one click away from “being in the office”.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

“Discover Your Inner Strength“

What is your favorite quote?

“One way, the same way, everyday.”

It’s something I’ve been saying and living for decades. I want my clients to always get the best product and service, and they can expect the same level of quality, dedication, and urgency from our company every day. In turn, I use the saying to teach employees how important it is to be consistent and always bring our A-game.

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