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On the Job ... Mitch Mercer

Photo by Barry Levine

Photo by Barry Levine

Q. If you were a young adult fresh out of college, what would you do first in searching for a job?

A. I would look for something that fit my skill set and that interested me. I would then research that company and have a set of questions for the interviewer to see what the company had to offer me.

Q. What was the first thing you spent money on when you received your first ever paycheck?

A. The first major purchase was a house. Real estate is always a good investment.

Q. What's the single most effective technique you found during the past two years for keeping employees motivated?

A. Encouraging them to extend relationships with customers. For example, having knowledge of products we do not offer and assisting the customers in finding what they are looking for.

Q. What was your first job?

A. Construction. Digging foundation footers.

Q. What led you to your current position? Why did you want to operate your own business?

A. I majored in Art in school and have always loved designing spaces. The thing about running your own business is the freedom of decisions and schedules. My art background tied in with the fabric business my mother started.

Q. Do you have a role model or mentor in your career?

A. My mother. She went back to school after my father died and majored in accounting and graduated magna cum laude. She then opened a 1,500-square-foot drapery and upholstery fabric business in 1983 as an idea to offer material to the public by eliminating the middle man. She has always displayed an inner strength and resolve that I admire.

Q. What is the biggest lesson you as a business leader learned from the recent recession?

A. You cannot expect business to remain constant or grow all the time. I have had to make quicker decisions with inventory and scheduling. Be flexible.

Q. If you could turn the clock back on one aspect of technology - examples e-mail, automated phone systems, cell phones, PDAs, etc. - what would you most like to see go away?

A. Reality TV.

Q. What is your favorite work-related gadget?

A. iPad.

Q. What was the last book you read? Do you have things you read daily or regularly?

A. "Water for Elephants" is the last book I read. I read USA Today, The Albany Herald, and listen to NPR every morning.

Q. I'm up and going by?

A. I wake up early. Anywhere from 5 to 7. Up and running by 7.

Q. Favorite hobbies or activity outside work?

A. I started playing golf five years ago and last summer started riding a road bike. I ride with a group and we try to ride about 200 miles a week.

Q. If you could take back one business decision you made in your career, what would it be?

A. Probably not speculate as much on inventory. I have moved to that line of thinking, and it helps me bring in inventory that customers request quicker and more economically.

Q. Best thing about your job?

A. The freedom of expression in designing rooms with color and pattern. Seeing an idea come together as a completed project.

Q. Worst thing about your job?

A. Paperwork.

Q. The most beneficial course(s) I took in school was:

A. I took accounting and math courses as electives. It helps balance my art.

Q. What would be your dream job if you were able to pick a position outside your current career path?

A. An adventure guide. To be outside exercising everyday would be the ultimate.

Q. Finish this thought: "On the first anniversary of my retirement, I see myself...

A. I will never retire.

Q. What is the one trait a strong business leader cannot afford to be without?

A. Honesty.

Q. Crystal ball time: What's your call on when the economic recovery for our area will be in full swing?

A. With all I have read and heard, 2012. I am seeing signs of small improvements now, and I personally feel this fall will be the start to a slow strong beginning of the recovery.

Q. What kind of music might I find on your list of most played on your iPod?

A. Luke Doucet , Sade and Lady GaGa.

Q. What do you think is the biggest change Albany will see in the next 10 years?

A. The growth of small business and hopefully the reduction of big chains. Small business is the driving force in any community by participating and donating to the community's causes.

Q. What was the best vacation you've ever taken?

A. Key West. At sunset everyone meets downtown for a festival and watches the sun go below the horizon. Something everyone should experience.

Q. What are the biggest changes you have seen in your specific line of business over the past few years?

A. The move away from domestic products. It is a world economy now.