Bernie and Phyl Heading Toward Sunset
Bernie and Phyl Rubin are like air—you don’t notice them until they’re not there. A few weeks ago, we realized the duo was fading into the background of the Bernie and Phyl’s Furniture ads while their sons, Rob and Larry Rubin, do most of the talking. Fearing that our favorite married couple would be furnishing a house in Florida, we called Bernie to find out what’s going on.
Bernie says he and his wife will be “semi-retired.” Over the next year or so, the couple will appear in fewer advertisements as customers grow accustomed to seeing their sons. While his children still consult with him on a daily basis, Bernie sees leaving his television career as good for the family business.
“I have to realize, I’m not as young as I used to be,” Bernie said . “My wife and I might not relate to our typical customer. We’re their parents. So now we’re bringing the next generation in who may relate to them.”
Larry and Rob are the third generation of Rubin men in the business. Bernie’s father trucked furniture, and Bernie started working with his dad at age 14. Bernie and Phyl used his contacts in the furniture business to open their first store in 1983. The company now has six locations throughout New England, but Bernie emphasizes it’s still a family business.
“Rob came in directly out of college, and Larry graduated college as an electrical engineer, but he decided he wanted to be in the family business,” Bernie said. “Both have been in it for most of their adult life. I’m probably the most fortunate guy in the world, to have my children working with me.”
While Bernie and Phyl’s may not have the huge promotions or flashy showrooms like its competitors, Bernie sees the company as a last bastion of family-owned business in the area.
“We are the largest privately-held company. Jordan’s is owned by Berkshire Hathaway. That’s corporate America. We’re in a family-business league. People around Boston know that we’re a family-oriented business and that it will be continued on from generation to generation and when corporate America moves on to other things, we’ll still be there. Maybe not me personally, but that’s why we’re moving to another generation.”
We’ll miss the couple, who will split their time between New England and Florida. (Yes, their homes are furnished by the same companies sold in their stores.) But at least we’ll always have the jingle to remind us of the good old days.