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Secret to Magnolia designer’s success: Focusing on ‘little things’

For a couple of minutes, Doman Soohoo couldn’t come to the phone to discuss his remarkable 30-year career at Magnolia and Best Buy. He was talking to a customer.

But what set this customer interaction apart from most was the reason they were talking.

“He just came in to say hi, not necessarily to buy something,” Doman said. “I’ve worked with him over the years. A lot of customers will do that.”

Doman’s customers at the Northgate Seattle store not only stop in to say hi, they invite him to their homes. Or if he’s already there helping them with an audio system, they might ask him to stay for dinner.

“He’s got relationships that go beyond transactions,” said Chris Smith, the store’s general manager. “Doman cares about the people he helps. It’s not just about one transaction, it’s about relationships that last a lifetime.”

Doman started building those relationships in 1988, when he took a job working for Magnolia. He started in car stereos, then sold audio and video products. When Best Buy acquired Magnolia in 2000, he stuck with it. Currently, he helps design premium audio and video systems.

“I figured it was either maintain and adapt or move on,” Doman said. “I wanted to stay on because I love what I do — I love working with people.”

And they love working with him.

“He helps people, then their kids grows up and he helps them,” Chris said. “It’s a family relationship like that.”

Doman said he does his best to remember customers’ names. And then he listens.

“You go to your favorite pub, and the bartender remembers you,” he said. “Customers come in, and I say, ‘Hi Tom, haven’t seen you in a while.’ Little things like that make a difference. And it’s so important to listen to people and find out what they really want.”

Making connections

Doman often goes to people’s homes on his own time, to make sure the system he sold them is perfect. One time he was helping a family during a visit that stretched well past dinner time.

“The husband said, ‘You eat yet?’” Doman said. “I hadn’t, so he gave me a plate of food and it was delicious.”

Another family regularly invites him over to watch movies on the system he put together for them.

“You meet some pretty cool, nice people,” he said. “It’s kind of nice to be remembered and appreciated.”

After more than 30 years, Doman says he’s still enjoying his work and he’ll keep going until he gets tired, which doesn’t look like it will happen anytime soon.

“I have fun, and the crew I work with is really good,” he said. “This is like a second home to me. We learn from each other, we relate to each other. Everyone takes care of each other.”

Just like Doman takes care of his customers.

“If you’re talking about finding solutions for people, Doman is that guy,” Chris said. “He’s just a fantastic human being and what he does for customers is awesome.”


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