In a world of big-box stores and impersonal online shopping, family-owned businesses are something special. They are plugged into the community and deliver an experience that makes you feel like you’re family, too.
mosby building arts
A legacy to stand the test of time. That’s what Scott Mosby, second-generation owner of Mosby Building Arts, sees when he passes by homes built by his father Sam, as well as ones he built himself. “I drive around town and see things my dad built 60 years ago, buildings that have outlived him,” Mosby says.
A combination of economic need and a suspicion that he could do things better than the industry norm led Sam Mosby to found the company in Webster Groves in 1947. “At the time, the industry was fragmented, with the trades separate and regimented—plans would be drawn by an architect, built by a separate builder, and so on,” Mosby says. “Dad thought he could streamline things and do it faster, better, quicker, smarter. So he started making cabinets in his garage.”
The business took off, thanks in part to the frenzy of postwar building. “Dad’s company thrived quickly, and by the 1950s, he had several carpenters working for him,” Mosby says. “In the ’60s, when I was in high school, my dad started drawing plans. He had the ability, and he couldn’t get architects to do it because the work was too small—things like adding a screened-in porch or garage. We were connecting the dots and getting to the point where our company could do everything from the design to the build stage.”
Now located in Kirkwood, Mosby Building Arts is firmly anchored in the community. “I grew up in Affton, and many of the homes my dad built are in Webster, Affton, Kirkwood, Warson Woods and north of the Highway 40 corridor,” Mosby says. “We especially did a lot of work in Webster and Kirkwood, because that’s where my dad grew up and people knew him.”
Mosby adds that it’s not just the company’s owners who are second-generation—some of the employees are second generation, too, and it’s not uncommon for the business to have multiple-generation clients. “Right now we’re working with three generations of the same family—we’re doing a bath for a young couple, a luxury master bath for the parents and an accessible kitchen, bathroom and entry for the grandparents,” Mosby says.
Part of the company’s success, he believes, is this focus on local ties and treating employees like family. “We’ve hired people with the same values as our family,” he says. “Our employees are active in their communities, and we do a lot of outreach and support our coworkers. Our values today are the same ones my dad believed in.”
Amini’s golden-domed superstore off Highway 40 in Chesterfield is a familiar site to most St. Louisans. The home decor and outdoor furniture store has been in St. Louis since 2005, but the family-owned business started its roots in Oklahoma City in 1975, when Mack Amini, along with wife Rajeanna, purchased the small pool table store where he had been working as an accountant.
In just two years, he added a store in Tulsa. That was around the time he hit upon his big idea: To combine billiards, bar stools and dining furniture into one showroom. “At the time, there wasn’t a store that existed that combined these things,” says Arash Amini, Mack’s son and CEO of the company.
By 1985, Amini owned four stores, adding Kansas City, Kansas, and Springdale, Arkansas. The St. Louis location, the largest at 58,000 square feet, was added in 2000 after Arash joined the company. Not surprising, he grew up in the business, spending plenty of time at the Tulsa store as a kid. “I sold my first pool table when I was 14; I went on deliveries, worked the sales floor and helped with marketing,” he says.
Each store is still run by family members, with Mack continuing on as president and working at the Tulsa store and Rajeanna as comptroller for all five locations. Mack’s son Hamid manages the Tulsa location, and his sister-in-law Rosima Gies runs the show in Oklahoma City. Arash spends time at the St. Louis and Kansas City stores.
Given the tight family bond, it’s not surprising that Amini’s management strives to treat employees and customers like family, too. They also believe in investing in the local community, regularly making donations of time and money to nonprofits, says Arash, who currently is on the board of JDRF and Muscular Dystrophy Association. “It’s important to us to be part of the community,” he notes. “When we came in from out of town, we got heavily involved with charity. St. Louis has been so good to us from the beginning, and we just want to give back.”
Another common theme through the years is seeking out new products, he says. “Over time we added things like shuffleboard and pinball, outdoor furniture, traditional furnishings, rugs, lighting, theater seating, and so on,” he notes. Amini’s recently renovated the second floor of its St. Louis store, turning it into a home furnishings section and lighting showroom. “Before, if you wanted nice furniture and you wanted to touch it and see it, that was hard to find here,” Arash says. “So we set up this awesome gallery, and it’s quite the shopping experience.”
Pictured: Sam Mosby with his son Scott in 1953
Photo courtesy of Mosby Building Arts