Raad Ghantous: Designing Experiences
Today in The Lounge, Nick chats with Raad Ghantous from Raad Ghantous andAssociates. Raad and his team do not design interiors, they design experiences. Learn about Raad’s journey to Interior Design, his company today and his ongoing work in radio.
Early Life and Career
Currently residing in Southern California, Raad Ghantous came to the United States in 1985 to pursue a career in business. He was born in Baghdad, Iraq, grew up in Kuwait and attended college in Switzerland. After receiving his undergraduate degree in economics he traveled to the US to pursue a Masters degree in Marketing from the Peter Drucker Center in Claremont, California. Upon arriving in the States he quickly realized he was at a disadvantage, he did not have the same work experience as his graduate peers, whom he was competing against for jobs. After the real estate crash in 1991, Raad serendipitously received a card in the mail for a school in Newport Beach, offering a certificate program in Interior Design. After taking a few classes Raad found himself challenged in ways he never was before and received his BA in Interior Design in 1994.
Deciding to focus on the hospitality sector, Raad interned with Design 1, which eventually became Sue Firestone, a prominent designer in the area. He went on to intern with Susan Cohen in Santa Monica who was working on large scale residential projects similar to small boutique hotels. With a staff of two Rad received a lot of hands-on experience. A former coworker from Design 1 had a colleague who worked at Hirsch Bedner and Associates whom he met with for what he thought was simply a conversation. As luck would happen, the company had recently been awarded a large project and he was offered a job on the spot. Raad then moved to Atlanta and remained at Hirsch Bedner for three yrs.
Raad drew upon insight from his working experience at other companies to determine how he wanted to structure his company. It was important he cater to certain niche markets while still providing the level of service and consultancy that is afforded to larger projects. His business is a combination of both of design and business consultancy; employing staff with operational, marketing and design backgrounds. He has core individuals weighing in on the design direction and other consultants on hand to create a vertically integrated client. His staff of 5 full-time employees and 7 consultants manage the entire process from concept to completion focusing on everything from menu development, marketing to social media. The firm also works on residential projects with a split of 70% commercial projects, 30% residential.
Raad spends the majority of his time with clients or processing documentation with the city. He gathers the team together once or twice a week for project meetings. Prioritizing is the hardest part of the job as it is still a challenge for him to determine where to spend his time. There is a sense of responsibility for his staff and his chosen career path where he must ensure that there is another project in the pipeline. To that end, he finds himself constantly out networking.
The company has experienced the most marketing success through guest speaking and published articles. Raad also produces three radio shows. The Raad Life is a journey of aging geared toward baby boomers, veterans, and nonprofits. His second show, co-hosted with Craig Sullivan, is focused on the Californian hospitality scene called, Check out California. The last show, Dense $ense, is targeted to end users. It is a question and answers series covering topics such as “How Did You Decorate Your Home for Christmas?” Doing radio has allowed him to build his brand and also portray him as a designer that is involved in the community. It has more positively affected the residential side than the commercial side. Raad also moderates a Facebook page: What do you think San Clemente. This is an ad-free, forum based page meant to build communities and trust. Raad attributes his success to his personal mantra “to thy own self-be true.” You have to know where your stand. It’s hard to fake it and even harder to sustain it.
To connect with Raad or to learn more visit www.raadghantous.com.
Visit Raad Ghantous and Associates on Facebook. Find The Raad Life – Live On-Air every Wednesday at Noon PST on Ocean Talk Radio, Check Out California on Facebook, You Tube and The Design $ense on Facebook live show every Wednesday 8:30 am PST
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