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Daniel Lubner adapted to staff ideas and energy to build $100M firm

"When you're starting a new venture, the definition of success is survival. That’s all you’re trying to do in those early years." –Daniel Lubner, Clive Daniel Home

Daniel Lubner co-founded Clive Daniel Home in 2011 with his father, Clive Lubner.
Daniel Lubner co-founded Clive Daniel Home in 2011 with his father, Clive Lubner.
Photo by Lori Sax
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After years in the furniture and interior design industries at companies like Robb & Stucky, the father-son team of Clive Lubner and Daniel Lubner went out on their own and founded Clive Daniel Home in 2011. What began with a Naples store and showroom has grown into a regional interior design and furnishings company that includes locations in Boca Raton, Sarasota and Fort Myers.

The company also consolidated its logistical footprint last year, going from three separate warehouses to a single, 175,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art warehouse in Fort Myers that has improved efficiencies and includes room for continued growth. “We have the luxury of space for the first time in our history,” says Lubner, 49. 

Along with the new warehouse, Clive Daniel Home moved into new headquarters space in Fort Myers. “It’s the first time in the company’s history that all of the corporate arms and branches are under the same roof,” says Lubner. “We now get to collaborate together, which is just pretty incredible.”


Clive Daniel Home has 317 employees, and the strength of its team helped push the company over $100 million in annual revenues in 2023. “What makes that milestone so significant is we have 80 designers on the team,” says Lubner. “If you had taken any one of the designers who have been there for a full year out of the equation, we fall below the $100 million mark. It’s always a team effort, but I have never witnessed such a precise and perfect team effort in my professional history.”

In the years following the 2008-09 housing market recession, the furniture industry struggled with deflation after all the housing market issues. But the current economic climate has since swung the pendulum a bit too far. “A little bit of inflation would have been acceptable,” says Lubner. “But it’s been extra challenging to deal with it, to make sure that the company is healthy and to make sure we are first and foremost providing the right level of margin pricing quality for our clients. So it’s been a fight.”

Early challenges

“When you’re starting a new venture, the definition of success is survival,” says Lubner. “That’s all you’re trying to do in those early years. You’re trying to make payroll and live to fight another two weeks.”

Lubner says he never missed a payroll. But it came close a couple of times, especially since the company’s payroll was heftier than most startups.

“When we started the company, it was a three-to-five-store strategy from the get-go,” says Lubner. “So we brought on the industry’s greatest merchandising team to help pick out product. Our payroll expenses were much higher than a single-store operation should have been.”

Daniel Lubner says a key aspect of Clive Daniel Home is to try many new ideas to see what works.
Photo by Lori Sax

He compares those days to a heavyweight boxing match. “If we could withstand those early rounds, maybe in the long run we’d have a chance to pull out a victory,” he says.

And the company did just that. “That investment in the merchandising team and other key figures in the organization gave us the ability to scale and get to that second store and start spreading out the burden of payroll,” says Lubner. “Now with four stores it gives us the opportunity to do a lot more product development. Everything about scale comes into effect.”

Mistakes and lessons learned

Lubner’s not afraid to make missteps along the way. “We love making mistakes,” he says. “Failure is encouraged. We want to create a culture where we’re going to try things. And if they don’t work but we believe in them, we’re going to try it again and keep trying until we prove that it does or doesn’t work.”

When ideas don’t pan out, it’s an opportunity for a pivot to something better. Back in 2014, for example, the company turned a third of its Naples showroom into a pop-up clearance center to try to move some older inventory. A potential new client visited the showroom but wound up going with a different company. When Lubner got the chance to ask the client why, the client said Clive Daniel Home was a great furniture store, but they wanted to go with a design firm.

That made Lubner realize the company had given off the wrong impression. “We are a design firm first and foremost that happens to have a retail showroom attached to it,” he says. “But by making ourselves appear more of a retail brand than a design brand, we didn’t convey the right message to the client.

“The big lesson learned was that even though we’re in seasonal markets, when a client is coming to the showroom, it doesn’t matter if it’s January or July. It could be a client coming in for the first time,” he continues. “We decided to make sure the floor was laid out perfectly and make sure the showroom looks pristine 12 months out of the year.”

Team player

Lubner, asked if he could switch jobs with anyone in the company for a week, who would it be and why, says “there are so many people I admire in the company." He’d love to get inside the brains of team members like senior operations manager Amy Nesvik (“She has such a brilliant mind”) and the company’s distribution facility manager John Rodasavich (“He’s got the greatest ability to block and tackle and think through situations”).

Best advice

Entrepreneurs need to be ready for a lot of ups and downs. “Expect tough times and plan for them,” says Lubner. “Financially we always want to make sure we have cash reserves.”

A good support system at home also helps. “If it wasn’t for my wife encouraging me in those down times, I don’t know where we would be,” says Lubner.



Beth Luberecki

Nokomis-based freelance writer Beth Luberecki, a Business Observer contributor, writes about business, travel and lifestyle topics for a variety of Florida and national publications. Her work has appeared in publications and on websites including Washington Post’s Express, USA Today, Florida Trend, and Learn more about her at

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