John W. Smith, Founder and President
After growing up on a beef farm outside Ottawa, Ontario, John graduated from Trinity College at the University of Toronto and received his MBA (and a wife) from INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France. A banker by trade, his career led him to stints Amsterdam, Taipei, Chicago, New York, and Buenos Aires.
Eventually he joined a wireless telecom firm in a Washington, DC suburb where the Smiths, which at that stage included two Argentine daughters, put down roots. A family health issue led John to resign after just 18 months, and it was shortly thereafter that he transitioned to the furniture design and manufacturing world.
He founded his eponymous furniture company, WILLEM SMITH, and established partnerships across the US and in Vietnam to manufacture the firm’s designs. That endeavor grew to include a multi-line showroom, first in the Washington Design Center and more recently in a terrific space (with natural light and parking!) in Fairfax, VA. WILLEM SMITH wholesales its own furniture, its leather collection and a few marque furnishings collections to residential and hospitality interior designers across North America and sells directly to consumers through its showroom.
John lives with Mary, four daughters and Cleopatra (yes, he is woefully outnumbered) in Great Falls, VA. When he’s not talking about the piErgonom comfort, arcane leather insights or driving the Freightliner to North Carolina he likes to watch his children in drama performances or on the sports field as well as sit by his backyard fire pit and cook stuff.
John 'JB' Behrens, COO
JB grew up in Washington, DC where he still lives today. He joined WILLEM SMITH in 2005 to manage operations. Enjoys the development process that comes with creating the best sit in the business.
Prior to working with WILLEM SMITH, JB worked with JBNM Engineered Products, Gael Quality Software, and Winthrop, Stimson. JB enjoys organic gardening, cooking, travelling, and puns in English and Spanish.
JB is married and the father of one daughter.
Mary grew up in Massachusetts and graduated from Bowdoin College in Maine. She then snuck off to Europe for a backpacking trip and ended up working her way around Europe, eventually starting her own company running ski and summer holidays in the Swiss Alps.
Nine years later, after selling the company, she went on and received her MBA (and a husband) from INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France. Mary worked in Marketing for American Express in New York and Argentina. She then dropped everything, moved to the suburbs and had 4 kids.
Today, in addition to opining about how the sit of a new chair should be tinkered with to better support her ailing back, Mary oversees marketing, accounting and making sure the ‘Dog on Premises’ sign goes up on the days that Cleo comes to work.