lia sophia CEO Tory Kiam remembers his father, the legendary businessman and entrepreneur Victor Kiam
In honor of Father’s Day, lia sophia CEO Tory Kiam remembers his father, the legendary businessman and entrepreneur Victor Kiam. Credited with building Remington Razors into a household name, Victor, who was described in The New York Times as a “truly remarkable entrepreneur of the old kind—the kind they simply don’t make any more,” was also the dynamic leader of Lady Remington, which was renamed lia sophia by Tory and Elena Kiam in 2004.
ls: What was the best advice your dad, Victor, gave you about being an entrepreneur and running your own business?
Tory: The two most important things my Dad taught me in being a businessman, especially as an entrepreneur, is first, to be involved with a product or service that you believe in and one that provides value to the consumer. Dad always said if you can’t stand behind your product, you should not be selling it. He famously demonstrated this belief when he went on television commercials and said, “Remington shavers shave as close as a blade or I’ll give you your money back.” Dad had the same belief in the products at his other companies, including the jewelry the Advisors sold through Lady Remington (the predecessor to lia sophia). In fact, it was my father who originally instituted the unmatched Lifetime Replacement Guarantee that lia sophia currently offers on all of our jewelry.
The other lesson my father taught me was that in business (and in life) to surround myself with quality people. By that, he meant people who were smart, who were energetic and above all were of high integrity. He said never be afraid to bring in people who are better than you. They will make you, your companies and your life better. Dad was right. I have found that when business was going well, including at lia sophia, it was highly correlated with the quality of the people leading the company.
I believe by following my Dad’s advice to associate with quality products and quality people, entrepreneurs, and business people in general, can greatly increase the chances of their success.
ls: What was the most important life lesson you learned from your Dad?
Tory: The most important life lesson I learned from my Dad was to never, ever give up. We all go through rough patches in our lives and I certainly saw my Dad go through some downtimes, especially in business. However, my Dad was one of the greatest fighters I have ever known. Because he always remained positive and worked hard to come up with creative solutions to whatever his problems might have been, Dad was able to “stay in the game” and often was able to turn, what he used to say, a “lemon into lemonade.” In fact, on many occasions I saw him transform down and out companies like Remington into profitable winners. When I have had my own rough patches, I often think of my father and try my best to work out whatever the situation might be with optimism but also with a realistic approach. These efforts to persevere have usually pointed me in a positive direction and have led to some great successes. lia sophia has certainly been one of those success stories.
ls: What is one of your fondest memories of your Dad?
Tory: Among my fondest memories of my Dad were the many years we spent competing together as a father-son tennis team. We started playing in father-son tennis tournaments when I was only eleven years old, first on a regional level, and later on the national and international levels. Originally my father was the better player, but as I grew older and stronger, I became the captain of the team.
My Dad was always more of the risk taker and I was more the patient, just get the ball back, type of player. Because of our balance, we beat some pretty impressive teams, including a former Wimbledon champion and his son, and eventually went on to win both the Eastern and New England championships. On the court we were truly a team, winning together and losing together. The bond we nurtured playing together helped us to not only work well together in business, but also more importantly in life.