In the fall of 2012, Ohad Berebi, owner of the Mount Kisco kitchen-design showroom Leicht Westchester, received some dire news: His pregnant wife had breast cancer. That news came as he was in the midst of renovating his year-old showroom. “I said, ‘You know what? This [renovation] is nothing. If I compare it to cancer, it’s easy.’”
Between his wife’s treatments and the birth of his son, Berebi completed that renovation, and even led Leicht to a Best of Westchester award. How did he manage all that? First, he says, it’s paramount to give professionals, like designers, freedom “to be creative, to do whatever they need to do.”
“Ohad gives each of us the freedom to work with each client in our own unique way, and to design as we choose, with the collaboration of our clients,” says Leicht designer Leah Diamond. “[Working for Berebi] has taught me that leadership does not necessarily mean being involved in every last detail and micro-managing your employees, but, rather, instilling confidence in them to manage things on their own.”
Second, says Berebi, it’s critical to keep communication open, putting aside one’s own issues to address what others need to get the job done. “By listening and trying to work with our individual attributes, he finds a way to reach us and communicate ways we can improve—and even points out things we should be proud of,” says designer Michael Drew.
Even when Superstorm Sandy decimated the New Jersey warehouse where his showroom kitchens were being held, Berebi didn’t falter, slogging through the warehouse for remnants he could refinish and display until replacements arrived. And he never lost his famously upbeat attitude. “While remaining ever in command,” says Drew, “he can still find a way to bring an element of levity when you least expect it—be it through a joke, or an unexpected burst of song.”