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Meet the Founder of Phillip Jeffries: Eric Bershad

It all started 45 years ago with a dream and 10 grasscloths

Meet the Founder of Phillip Jeffries: Eric Bershad

Eric Bershad founded Phillip Jeffries in 1976 with just 10 grasscloth wallcoverings in his garage. 

Now, more than 45 years later, the company has more than 250 employees, global distribution, and a million yards of wallcovering stocked in their New Jersey warehouse. While Eric's sons Phillip and Jeffrey Bershad run the day-to-day operations, Eric is chairman of the board. 

Above left, Eric Bershad with the first Phillip Jeffries showroom team including wife Sue and mother Mildred (Mindy) in Livingston, New Jersey. Above right, Eric visits the Los Angeles showroom and several of the West Coast sales representatives. In celebration of surpassing 45 years, we sat down with Eric to reflect on the early years and what's next for PJ. 

Forty five years later, what are you most proud of?
We were so small when we started - wehad 8 to10 employees - and we wanted togive everyone healthcare. My wife and partner in everything, Sue, advocated for it and so we started a pension plan and healthcare plan. A lof of our values were established in the1970s and 80s. That was how the business grew.

How did you set PJ up for success?
The way Philip and Jeffrey do business has taken the company far beyond me, but the most important thing I passed down is the relationships. And we’re approaching almost 45 years of some relationships. It started witha dream, terrific employees, and a lot of people who have been very good to us. But taking a family business and maintaining the success, that’s the hard part. We will keep branding, keep advertising, and keepsocial media up to date so we retain our market share and continue to grow. As Philip says, the bar gets higher and higher. And as it gets higher, it gets harder. That’s the challenge.

What’s the best part of a family business?
There were a lot of great things about working with the boys,but the best times were when we traveled together. And we shared ideas even before they joined the company. I was traveling 23 weeks of the year and traveling alone is very difficult so having a son come with me was wonderful. Traveling with both of them was really exciting. In 2000, I took Philip to Japan for the first time right after he came on board. We went to a linen factory in the middle of nowhere and it was so hot! I handed him a pair of scissors and said, “Don’t quit! it’s not always this hard!”

Any lasting impressions?
When you look at PJ, I want you to see that it's one of the best places to work. We value our employees - some of them have been with us since the beginning!

What’s life like today?
I’m in Boca Raton and it’s 70 degrees and sunny! I’m president of our residential complex and our general manager is retiring so I’m very busy right now finding his replacement while also overseeing a large, 30-million-dollar construction project. This weekend we’re coming back to NJ to watch our grandkids so Jeffrey and his wife can celebrate their 15-year wedding anniversary.


When the boys were young, Philip was about 13 years old, and he would climb all over these giant stairs in the warehouse. Sue would say, “Get down!” And I’d say, “He’s fine!” And he was. He’d haul these rolls all over, up and down, and through the warehouse. There’s a little bit of me in both boys. They’re their own people, but when you come home and talk about business at dinner, it kind of gets in your blood. They have a lot of passion and energy.

Rolls of wallcovering in the warehouse today.

I have the ability to look at wallcovering and say, “Oh, it’ll never hang.” I was always involved in the testing because I could tell if a product was good or not just by looking at it.

Eric at the first office and with the Los Angeles Showroom Manager Andrea Muckler.


The difficult takes a few minutes, the impossible might take a little longer.

My favorite book is the Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable by Seth Godin. PJ has to be the purple cow. You must stand out. You have to be different.

The full interview originally ran in the Spring 2022 issue of The Drop. Read the newest edition of our designer magazine now.


About Phillip Jeffries:

Now in its fourth decade, Phillip Jeffries has emerged as the industry leader in natural, textured and specialty wallcoverings. A manufacturer and importer of unique and fine quality textured wallcoverings, the company was founded in 1976 with just 10 grasscloths. From the humble beginnings of the family garage, Phillip Jeffries now stocks more than 1,000 ready-to-ship wallcoverings in their 60,000+ square foot headquarters. Working hand-in-hand with skilled artisans, Phillip Jeffries creates the design world's most beautiful and sought-after wallcoverings. For more information,