Category Close-Up December 2017

Making It Stateside

Our roundtable-style article includes insights on how business is faring from companies producing goods wholly or in part in the U.S.

Exclusive Sunbrella Throws

Textillery Weavers has the exclusive license to weave throws using Sunbrella yarns. These soft throws are fade resistant and can be chlorine bleached. The top throw is from the lightweights group, the center one is part of the midweight collection and the bottom design is from the plush collection. All styles measure 44 by 72 inches, are offered in a variety of colors and can be customized.

    

Customization Specialty

At Design Art from Orion Ornamental Iron, Inc., customization is a specialty. Whether it’s traversing poles or originally styled finials, poles, rings, brackets, centerpieces or medallions, Design Art Collection made-in-the-U.S. products are hand-painted for each customer. Also shown (below) are elements from available traversing collections, offered in iron, wood and lightweight embossed metal. More than 50 finishes and nearly 200 finial styles are included.

Versatile Traditional

Machine-made in the U.S., the Kismet Collection of rugs from Mohawk Home’s Karastan brand combines the sheen from 28 percent Smartstrand Silk™, a proprietary synthetic performance fiber, with the matte finish from 72 percent New Zealand wool. Neutrals are paired with accent colors from steel blue to blush. The antiqued look of the Quest design, shown in silver, along with its neutral palette allows it to blend with a range of home décor styles.

Made In New Hampshire

From Bedford Cottage, the Mélange throw features a trio of colors intricately and tightly woven creating a sophisticated palette of softness. Mélange is available in six color combinations. Shown is the cadet navy/gold option.

   

Elegance By The Sea

From Avanti Linens, the Coronado Collection includes a shower curtain adorned with sequins and beads, and trimmed at the bottom with 2-inch fringe. The 100 percent cotton tufted rug coordinates and also features fringe, along with embroidered shells and starfish. The towels are classic Avanti velour with a printed border embellished with sequins and beads. The bath accessories are hand-painted coral and pink on a textured ivory surface finished with rhinestones.

Updated Homestead

The oldest of Capel braided designs and the first braided rug to be made completely from chenille yarns has come back to life. Just like its forefather, Old Homestead, the updated New Homestead from Capel Rugs offers a touch of nostalgia in
on-trend colorways. The rug shown is made-to-order with 70 percent polyester, 25 percent polypropylene and 5 percent cotton. It is available in varied shapes and sizes, including custom, and in marble (shown), vista, fountain blue and sundried red.

• Is running a U.S.-based business easier or more difficult than it was five years ago?

Bart Hill, senior vice-president, Mohawk Home: “Without question, it is more challenging based on a variety of factors. As a manufacturer, we are challenged by the ever-changing shift in market conditions and consumer preferences. The strategy behind serving our customers, whether it is brick-and-mortar or online sales, requires adaptive technologies across two very different manufacturing models.
“We compete in a truly global marketplace, so we have to stay at the forefront in manufacturing technologies, adapting to consumer demands, managing the constant fluctuation of raw material costs, all while providing an innovative, trend-right product offering allowing us to win at all major retailer channels. Finding the right ‘harmony and balance’ is the key to being successful as a U.S.-based manufacturer, which is a core tenant at Mohawk.”
Jeff Kaufman, president/coo, Avanti Linens: “Business is challenging regardless of where you’re manufacturing/finishing product. The domestic portion of our business has its challenges, as does the import piece. Having some of our production here allows us to control it better with shorter turnaround times and the ability to be flexible on quantities and dates. We can test more and react quickly when things work without the inventory risk associated with imports.”
Cameron Capel, vice-president of sales, Capel Rugs: “Running a U.S.-based business is about the same now as it was five years ago, but much more difficult than it was 10 years ago! Made in America has a big ring to it, but consumers will not pay a large percent more for it. Maybe 20 percent more is usually the max.”
Sunil Patel, ceo, Orion Ornamental Iron, Inc.: “Orion has been a Made in America custom drapery hardware company since its inception. We have many innovative products and our strength lies in customization. The challenges we have faced include acquiring skilled personnel and the increase in cost inputs. Our business model continues to be based on handcrafted products, which is the key to Orion’s success.”
A John Rose and Judith Rose, owners, Textillery Weavers: “For 40 years we have primarily dealt with domestic suppliers as well as manufactured here in Bloomington, IN—so that has not changed. The biggest change in the last five years has been the growing appreciation of Made in America. I would observe that that moniker is meaningful to most of our customers and critical to many,” says A John.
“I would add that it is increasingly difficult to find U.S. suppliers. We have worked with the same yarn suppliers and dye-house for many years, but it becomes more and more difficult to have choices and back-up suppliers,” explains Judith.
Richard Sherman, president, Bedford Cottage: “Every business has its own set of unique challenges, whether they be domestic or not. As things change, it presents new challenges that never existed five years ago. But with those new challenges, come new opportunities as well.”

• How has your company kept pace with changing times?

Capel/Capel Rugs: “Over the past two years, Capel has really revamped our line to speak to the changes in pricing for rugs, and design as well. Machine-made rugs have had such advancements and are much lower priced. We have been able to catch up and offer great designs at value prices. E-commerce has certainly grown as well. Online buyers are savvy—they know what to look for and search for the lowest price. We protect our brick-and-mortar retailer partners by requiring minimum advertised pricing (MAP).”
Rose/Textillery Weavers: “Textillery has always been a design-driven company, so we have been on a non-stop evolution for 40 years. We have always been about color and texture. What has changed over the years are the materials used to manifest those designs. Some of that evolution is based on materials available, but has certainly been in response to what we hear from our customers. We try to keep up with technology, but we still weave by hand. We have certainly seen distribution channels change over the years. We have moved in and out of certain markets, but have always focused on the best in design and quality. Our name is on every product that goes out the door—we take that very seriously,” says A John.
“The pace has quickened and is sometimes overwhelming as answering e-mail becomes a full-time job. On the other hand, e-mail has allowed for quick decision-making by customers and has put options in front of our customers on a very timely basis. More and more customers are using our website to order. We have had a substantial increase in consumers contacting us directly via our website. As stores go out of business, consumers have done their research to contact us directly for additional store options,” Judith notes.
Sherman/Bedford Cottage: “Everything has changed from how we design our products, to disseminating information to our customers, to having a social media presence. All of it needs to work in tandem with each other.”
Kaufman/Avanti Linens: “The biggest change is the significant increase in direct-to-consumer shipping, which is now 20 percent of our business. We’ve changed the layout of our operation, systems, personnel and how we buy based on this change. And it will continue to drive volume and changes in our business.”
Hill/Mohawk Home: “Innovation and differentiation are the keys to our company keeping pace with changing times. Mohawk reinvests back in its people, facilities and manufacturing technologies, and product lines continuously. Our management teams are constantly challenged to improve methods of production and distribution. Our product designers are constantly monitoring and tracking emerging trends in color and fashion. Our marketing, social media and e-commerce teams all work in concert to insure our product innovation and differentiation are available at customers’ fingertips.”
Patel/Orion Ornamental Inc.: “Orion maintains a dynamic position in terms of product updates and introductions. Examples of this would be our traversing systems both in manual and motorization, the Contemporary Collection with crystals, and the newly introduced Design Art Collection. We utilize technology with our websites to make all of our products available, and maintain regular communication with our customer base through well-designed e-mail campaigns. Orion has also been consistent in attending the window covering trade shows, enhancing product visibility and customer interactions.”

• What do you have that is essential to succeed against all competitors?

Sherman/Bedford Cottage: “Our customers expect a level of quality and design that they have come to appreciate since 1980, so staying true to that is our niche. Being a domestic manufacturer gives us tremendous flexibility to manage customers’ requests, and customize designs and colors quickly. We pride ourselves on being competitive pricewise, even though we are made in the U.S.”
Patel/Orion Ornamental Inc.: “The key is customer service. This is also supported by on-time shipping and quality. We like to treat each project the designer brings to us as a unique and distinct drapery hardware experience for their end customers.”
Kaufman/Avanti Linens: “The most important element to competing in this market is the right product. We continue to offer differentiated, compelling product that commands a higher retail and allows us to continue to produce in Moonachie, NJ.”
Hill/Mohawk Home: “The ability and willingness to invest back into ourselves provides Mohawk Home with the capability to innovate and differentiate ourselves. It’s essential that we offer a variety of products that fulfill all of our customers’ expectations. Quality, craftsmanship, competitive pricing, environmental stewardship, effective inventory management and the made in the U.S. aspect are all key to our continued success. However, the single most important ingredient is our people. Although we are an international company, our roots are firmly planted right here in Georgia and we plan to keep it that way!”
Capel/Capel Rugs: “Capel Rugs has been in business for 100 years. We have built a grand tradition of offering quality, fair prices and great service. And also, not resting on our laurels—we are constantly reinventing ourselves.”
Rose/Textillery Weavers: “What we have that is essential is Judith and A John Rose. We answer the phone and value every one of our customers, our suppliers and the members of our team. We own the company and can (and try to) say ‘yes’ anytime we want,” says A John.
“What we sell to our customers is ‘personalization’. Customers are thrilled not only with the knowledge that the product is hand-woven in the United States, but also with the knowledge that they can order a custom throw—using their own color combination—at no additional charge. Consumers increasingly want to know how items are made and the Textillery Weavers story of hand-weaving in the U.S. for 40 years is one of the authentic craft stories,” Judith concludes. LDB

Resources

• Avanti Linens, 800-360-0836, avantilinens.com
• Bedford Cottage, 800-242-1537, bedfordcottage.com
• Capel Inc., 800-334-3711, capelrugs.com
• Mohawk Home, 800-843-4473, mohawkind.com
• Orion Ornamental Iron, Inc., 877-476-6278, ironartbyorion.com
• Textillery Weavers, 800-223-7673, textillery.com