Druckman grew up with an intimate knowledge of the furniture industry—his father distributed affordable mass-market furniture and was a partner at 200 Lexington Ave. when the building was originally known as the New York Furniture Exchange. The younger Druckman had no intention of following in his father's footsteps and began practicing law after graduating from Columbia Law School in 1972. His primary exposure to interior design, at that point, came from hiring decorator Howard Rothberg, an old family friend, to furnish his one-bedroom apartment on East 72nd Street. In the process, he learned a lot about the traditional approach to decorating. Rothberg took Druckman's fiancée to Scalamandré, where a salesman who knew the decorator's tastes helped them quickly pick out curtains and French chintz for a sofa. "The whole sale was made in about five minutes," says Druckman. "I learned then that a good designer showroom salesman, who knows his customer, is invaluable."
Still, it was only a brief flirtation, and Druckman was happy practicing law. So, how did he end up running NYDC? "Nepotism, I always say," Druckman admits, only half in jest. In 1975, "I got the offer I truly couldn't refuse–my father said 'I need you.' My mother was dying, and he had a partner leaving him, so I went into the wholesale furniture business."
In those days, the New York Furniture Exchange focused largely on mass-market furniture, and Druckman spent his first few years "calling on every mom and pop furniture store in Brooklyn." He valiantly tried his hand at design too, enrolling in a nighttime course in furniture design, but soon learned that "the truth is that I can barely draw." By the early '80s, however, the business began to change, and management rebranded the building as a high-end design center. In 1995, when Druckman's father became ill, the board appointed him president of NYDC, and tasked him with fine-tuning the organization to make it an invaluable designer resource.
Even today, visitors to Druckman's compact fourth-floor office, where built-in sage green bookcases are piled with stacks of design magazines, can readily see the family history. One wall holds an assortment of mismatched frames with family photos through the decades; another presents still-life paintings of objects dear to both Druckman and his father, as well as artworks created by his grandmother.
Since taking the helm of NYDC, he has significantly accelerated advertising and marketing activities (before 1995, the organization did almost none), launching the in-house magazine and hosting a wide range of special events to build cachet. He is also in charge of leasing, mixing his training in law (which comes in handy when drawing up contracts) with more of a human touch while encouraging the country's top furniture companies to come into the fold. "We try to run this place on a familial basis, as much as a business basis," he says. "We're not just tough real estate people."
Druckman admits that he spent years trying to lure fabric showrooms from NYDC's uptown rival, the Decoration & Design Building, without much success. But he appears to have come to terms with the idea that the two buildings are destined to have different specialties. "We don't have a lot of fabric, so I can't say that we're the finest fabric building, but I do believe that we're the finest furniture building in the United States," he says. "With our collection of tenants, we have the best furniture companies in America, and some from Europe, under one roof."