New Billionaire in Town

Article by Alison Kartevold

Photography by Provided by American Furniture Warehouse

Originally published in Conroe City Lifestyle

There's a new entrepreneur in town whose backstory reads like the screenplay of a biopic. He came to town to do business, and his background and attitude will make him fit right in. 

Conroe checked all the boxes when poor farm kid turned billionaire Jake Jabs, CEO of America's Furniture Warehouse, was looking for a place to put his 15th furniture store. 

At age 81, he says accessibility to land, infrastructure, people, and a business-friendly environment was vital. Situated on the west side of I-45, the massive 440-thousand+ square foot warehouse and store is a working monument to fulfilling Jabs' American Dream.

The Coloradan believes the secret to success is finding and filling a need. And selling furniture is about visibility and referrals. "Repeat customers, you've got to have that today to do business," says Jabs. 

In 2020, with just 14 stores, Jabs' privately held company did a billion dollars worth of business. He buys large volumes from manufacturers around the globe for cash, never returning damaged goods. Instead, he fixes it in his workshops and then ships it with his fleet of trucks across the United States, all of which allows him to sell quality furniture at discounted prices. 

Jabs believes luxury doesn't have to be expensive, and he wants Conroe to know that he isn't just an entrepreneur. America's Furniture Warehouse is here to be their partner.

"I'd like people to know we do give back to the community, we aren't greedy, we like to sponsor all kinds of programs, from schools to charities, to police; my walls are full of them," says Jabs, "[and] we also give customers a value."

As a self-taught businessman and entrepreneur, Jabs sees tremendous value in education. Local school fundraisers are a mainstay of this philanthropic outreach. For example, if you buy a mattress from him, you can designate 2% of the sale to your favorite school. He has also given more than $35 million to his alma mater Montana State and the University of Colorado Denver for their business and entrepreneurship schools that bear his name.

Jabs didn't start with a big bankroll. His tail is one of perseverance and innovation. From ranching to war, music to sales, manufacturing to tigers, the stories this trailblazer has to tell should fill a Hollywood screenplay.

Raised on a poor cattle ranch in Montana, he served in the Korean War, delivering classified communications across Africa. When he came home, he played music and toured with the likes of Marty Robins before getting into the furniture game. Music is a lifelong passion, and Jabs needs little prompting to pick up a guitar and sing you a tune.

In Colorado, Jake Jabs is something of a legend. A member of the state's businessman's hall of fame, those who don't know him for his business acumen and philanthropy recognize him as the guy who used to have exotic animals in his furniture ads. He never owned any, but that is why you'll find bins of tigers on his showroom floors. Now that he has three stores in the Houston area, he plans to expand his ties to Conroe, Webster, and Katy.

"When we first went into Katy, they didn't really want us there 'cause they didn't know us," says Jabs, "now they love us."

He plans to be in the store he designed in Conroe monthly. The operation employs 350 people locally, who underwent training Jabs still participates in personally. He says first he has to sell them on AFW's philosophy before he asks them to sell to anyone else.

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