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Industry News

Industry News - July 2008

Beachcomber Hot Tubs’ Sales Soar
Vancouver, British Columbia-based Beachcomber Hot Tubs has experienced an upsurge in business due to increased demand from specialty-store owners who recognize that its innovative products and services offer their businesses a profitable new line.

Keith Scott, CEO of Beachcomber, says, “Specialty retailers are learning that hot tubs are hot sellers because there’s no better product that connects families, friends and loved ones. In today’s world, people need ways to relieve stress and communicate with others, so it’s logical that they want our products.”

Retailers and customers are also beginning to understand that hot tubs are not the complicated products that they were in years past. They are now viewed as home appliances that can fit into just about anyone’s living situation. “All a person needs is a flat spot in the backyard, electricity and a garden hose, and it can be up and running two hours after delivery,” Scott says.

Hot tubs are also one of the few products that truly sell 12 months of the year, so they’re a perfect new product line for businesses that face seasonal product adjustments. Scott says, “We have retailers who have made our Beachcomber Hot Tubs the anchor of their stores because they know they can make money on our products year round.”

Beachcomber’s lease/financing program is particularly appealing to specialty retailers, since Beachcomber helps store owners minimize the amount of cash that they need to spend in acquiring hot tubs by using a third-party financing organization. “All a store needs to do is sell four hot tubs within a year to cover its costs,” Scott says.

Beachcomber also sends out business-development professionals (instead of sales representatives) to assist retailers by making them more profitable. “Our business is to make our store owners money,” Scott says, “so it’s important that we provide these retailers with all the resources they need to make them succeed long term.”

With 17 different models covering a price-point range of $3,000 to $12,000, Beachcomber gives customers a wide variety of choices. Beachcomber compares its hot tubs to high-performance cars (such as Mercedes-Benz or BMW) for which their makers focus on form, fit and function—not glitz. Another distinctive feature of Beachcomber hot tubs is that the pump equipment has been moved from inside and underneath the hot tub to the outside. By insulating the fourth wall, Beachcomber has also made its hot tubs more energy efficient.

Despite the downturn in the economy, Scott is optimistic about the opportunities that exist for his company. “I believe our products are recession-proof,” he says. The company’s success is largely attributable to Scott’s business philosophy, which he adopted from his father (a successful businessman): “You need to give your customers what you’re saying, and then some.”

For more information on adding Beachcomber to your existing business, call Jeff Welters at Beachcomber Hot Tubs: (800) 663-3779.
Vince Jankowski

Vince Jankowski, Longtime R.H. Peterson Employee, Dies
Vince Jankowski, known as the face and heart of R.H. Peterson Company, died on July 5, 2008. Jankowski began his career with the Peterson Company in 1960, working with Bob Peterson to develop Real-Fyre gas logs. He then ran operations for over 30 years and worked for the company until his passing. Many in the industry referred to Jankowski as Father Nature because of his skill in replicating natural bark on Real-Fyre gas logs, which he did for several decades.

According to Leslie Bortz, president of R.H. Peterson, “Vince was vital to the success of our company, and even more, was of paramount importance to the development of the entire gas-log industry.” Bortz continues, “I am privileged to have learned from him—to have been his colleague and his friend for over 30 years.”

Jankowski is survived by his wife, Alice; his two daughters, Vickie and Paula; and his three grandchildren.

2008 International Pool/Spa/Patio Expo
Based on the number of companies that have already reserved booth space for the 2008 International Pool/Spa/Patio Expo, as well as a number of new show enhancements, this year’s event promises to be one of the biggest and best. Scheduled for November 18–20, 2008, this new megashow was formed by combining the International Pool & Spa Expo, Backyard Living Expo and AQUA Show, and will take place at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas.

The educational conference will be held November 15–20. Legendary NBA player Bill Walton will deliver the keynote address during the show. During his presentation, Walton will discuss the characteristics that create success in business, including focusing on teamwork, overcoming adversity, hard work, the fundamentals and a positive attitude.

Forshaw of St. Louis Adds to Representative Team
Forshaw of St. Louis (manufacturer of hearth products) recently added Jack Glynn to its independent-representative team, JJG Sales & Associates. Glynn’s territories will include Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin.


Denver Retailer and O.W. Lee’s Founders to Receive Lifetime Achievement Awards
Joe Primock, former owner of Denver-based Broadway Furniture, and Bob and Beverly Lee, founders of O.W. Lee, will be honored with Lifetime Achieve­ment Awards at the 2008 Apollo Awards banquet on September 17 during the Chicago Inter­national Casual Furniture & Accessories Market™.

The prestigious award is presented by the International Casual Furnishings Association. It is reserved for individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the casual-furniture industry and to their communities.

Primock served on two destroyers in the western Pacific from 1954 through 1956, then returned home to his family’s business, Broadway Furniture, which was at that time a furniture, appliance and carpeting store. He worked in the warehouse and made deliveries before moving to the sales floor. He served as a buyer, held various management positions and eventually assumed part ownership in 1970.

Ten years later, his father and cousin retired, leaving him sole owner. In the early 1990s, he dropped appliances and carpeting and narrowed the furniture lineup to focus on casual furniture, dinettes and barstools. Primock retired in 2006 to devote more time to the five women in his life: his wife, Colleen; his daughters, Beth and Michelle; and his granddaughters, Taylor and Jordan.

O.W. Lee was founded in 1947 by Bob Lee’s father, Oddist Winfred Lee. O.W. was a welder who made gates, railings and custom furniture. If the items required upholstery, his wife, Gerda, sewed the cushions. In 1954, Bob Brown and Hugh Jordan, who had teamed up to form Brown Jordan at about the same time that Lee started his company, became part owners of O.W. Lee Inc. Bob Lee entered the business at age 14, working after school to file castings, cut steel bars and fetch kapok (the fluffy byproduct of the kapok tree’s seed pods), which was the filling of choice for outdoor cushions at that time.

On their first date, Beverly Lee recalls that Bob took her to see the wrought-iron dinettes in the window at Barker Brothers Furniture Store. “He pointed out that these were made by his family’s company. Although I was duly impressed . . . I did think it was a rather weird place to take a girl,” she says. They eloped 18 months later.

Beverly eventually joined Bob in the Ontario, Calif.-based business, answering phones, paying bills, keeping the books and handling credit and collections. All three of the couple’s children, Terri, Brian and Jeanine, grew up taking vacations in the back of the delivery truck. Beverly says, “The plan was to deliver the furniture first, then go camping.”

All three children also worked part time in the family business through high school, and Terri and Brian continue with the business today. A grandson, Paul, is the fourth generation to contribute to the business, having recently created some product designs that the company has implemented.

The Lees bought out partners Brown and Jordan in the early 1970s, and O.W. retired in 1977. Bob retired in the late 1990s, and Beverly retired shortly thereafter. Both spend spare time with their grandchildren, and Beverly serves on the Board of the LeRoy Haynes Center, a nonprofit organization in LaVerne, Calif., that caters to the needs of special children, including maintaining a school for autistic children and a group home for children unable to stay in their own homes.

Everything Barbeque’s Outdoor Kitchen Gallery Opens
The outdoor-living trend has really taken off in Oklahoma City, thanks to Everything Barbeque’s newly expanded Outdoor Kitchen Gallery, which opened in May 2008. The specialty retailer’s additional space of 1,200 square feet makes it possible to cater to a diverse range of backyard chefs.

“Being a small specialty store gives us the opportunity to have a one-on-one experience with our customers, really getting to know them so we can work together to help design an outdoor-living space that best fits their lifestyle and budget,” Scott Grigsby, Everything Barbeque’s owner, explains. The store currently carries lines from Lynx, Capital, OCI, Solaire, Luxor, Weber, Hasty-Bake and more. For more information, visit www.everythingbbq.com.

Urban-Diversions to Open in Traverse City
With a combined 45 years’ experience in the casual-furniture industry, celebrated furniture designer Dale Campbell and his wife Teresa Campbell have opened a unique home-furnishings store and design studio in Traverse City, Mich.

The store’s offerings include fine furnishings, antiques and architectural elements. Each of the hand-selected items is unique in nature and is displayed in a very eclectic environment, with an emphasis on quality, style and the latest trends. Several of Dale’s award-winning furniture designs are available for sale.

Urban-Diversions has retained Bill Milne, a New York City graphics and photography specialist, to create its graphic identity, advertising collateral and Web site. The store is located in the historic Traverse City train station.

Hearth & Home Technologies Launches Blog
Hearth & Home Tech­nologies, a leader in environmentally sustainable whole-hearth systems, recently introduced a new blog to educate builders, dealers and new home-design–center staff with tips, trends and awareness for selling and upgrading options. Entitled Design Minds at Hearth and Home, the blog is available at www.designmindsathearthandhome.blogspot.com. The blog covers news, design, fireplace options, shelter and interior trends, marketing and merchandising, consumer shopping behavior and retail trends.

The author of the blog, Krisann Parker-Brown, is an expert resource specializing in the new-construction channel and in design centers for Hearth & Home Technologies. Parker-Brown is a liaison for design centers and builders, helping them with product selection and presentation based on decor style, housing segments, consumer lifestyles and purchasing patterns.

“How products are presented to consumers makes a big difference to their purchase selection in both what they choose and how much they spend,” Parker-Brown says. “My role is to work with national and local builders, design centers and model homes to capitalize on consumer shopping behavior and retail trends in best presenting hearth products to the new-home buyer. Presenting the right products and placing them strategically helps consumers select options and upgrades, while helping ensure they are more satisfied with their purchases.”

303’s Labeling Reflects Commitment to Green Policy
303 Products has redesigned its product labels and packaging to display more prominently the company’s commitment to producing green and environmentally friendly products. Nearly the company’s entire product line now consists of green products that sport a green logo on their labels and packaging.
From left: Dave Lennox, Randy Wyngard, Harry Bizios, Chad Allred and Tom Krebs.

Lennox Honors Randy Wyngard
Selected to receive the highest honor awarded by Lennox Hearth Products, Randy Wyngard of Gustave A. Larson Company was named a member of this year’s President’s Club. Only the most accomplished industry professionals are selected for this award, which recognizes the company’s top distributors for their achievements in sales, service and the promotion of Lennox Hearth Products.

The President’s Club Award was established in 2003 to honor the elite distributor partners who have helped shape Lennox Hearth Products as an industry leader. The award includes recognition during the annual President’s Club gathering, held this year in June in Quebec City.

Minuteman Acquires Adams Company
Minuteman International and ACHLA Designs, the Massachusetts-based designer and marketer of fireplace accessories and lawn-and-garden products, have announced their acquisition of the Adams fireplace tools and accessories division of the Iowa-based Adams Company. This division will be moved to Fitchburg, Mass., in late July and will operate as a division of Minuteman International Company. All inquiries should be directed to Minuteman International Company at (800) 626-1114.

Sales Representatives Wanted by Thompson and Elm
Thompson and Elm is looking for sales representatives in selected territories across the United States. For more information, call Deland Wylie at (334) 386-4005.

ICFA Announces 2009 Pre-Market Dates
The International Casual Furnishings Association’s board of directors has announced dates for the 2009 Casual Pre-Market. The event will be held Wednesday, July 8, through Friday, July 10, 2009, at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago.

The ICFA board is evaluating combining the July Pre-Market and September Casual Market into one event beginning in 2010, and it is reviewing possible midsummer dates. A decision is expected to be announced after ICFA’s November 2008 board meeting.

Bella-Dura Receives2008 Earth-Minded Award From ASID
Wearbest Sil-Tex Mills, Inc., makers of Bella-Dura™ performance fabrics, received the 2008 Earth-Minded Award from the American Society of Interior Designers during the Hospitality Design Exposition & Conference on May 14 in Las Vegas. Bella-Dura features include a minimum of 1,500 hours of lightfastness, bleach cleanability, tolerance of a minimum of 50,000 double rubs, inherent antimicrobial properties and resistance to mildew and stains. All Bella-Dura fabrics can be recycled at the end of their useful lives through a reclamation program currently in operation. All features exceed contract standards for performance.

Carls Patio Opens New Location in California
Carls Patio, the South Florida-based specialist in premium outdoor furniture, has opened its newest location in Laguna Beach, Calif. The new showroom is located directly on the Pacific Coast Highway, sitting among the tony boutiques, galleries and restaurants that make up Laguna Beach. Gary Ecoff, president of Carls Patio, reaffirmed the company’s commitment to continued steady growth, especially in the California market. “We are just beginning to realize some of the economies of scale associated with having multiple units within a given area,” he says, referring to the new location.

Lyle Ecoff, head of the company’s West Coast division, notes that the new showroom will be the third Berks Luxury Outdoor Furniture store, a 54-year-old brand that Carls Patio acquired in 2005. He says that he is “thrilled to expand the Berks franchise,” adding, “As Chanel belongs on Rodeo Drive, Berks belongs on the PCH in Laguna Beach.” The company also operates Saddleback of San Diego, Carls Patio’s first Southern California outdoor retail acquisition (made in 2005).

HD Expo a Huge Success
Spanning over 350,000 square feet, and with nearly 20,000 industry professionals (including attendees and exhibitors), the Hospitality Design Exposition & Conference, which took place in Las Vegas May 14–17, 2008, brought together exciting new products and influential trendsetters in the industry. An influx of green products and an expanded New Exhibitor Showcase joined forces with informative conference sessions on all aspects of hospitality design to ensure a successful series of days that included networking, product scouting and education.

Tropitone’s CEO Steps Down
Tropitone Furniture Company, a leading manufacturer of fine casual furniture, announced today that Michael Echolds, who has served as the company’s CEO since 1995 and remains a significant shareholder, has decided to step aside as CEO. Cap Hendrix has been named as the company’s new CEO. He served as a member of Tropitone’s board of directors between 1998 and 2007, during which time he played a key leadership role in shaping Tropitone’s successful business strategy. Echolds expects to continue to play an integral role as an advisor to Tropitone’s operating board and to assist Hendrix and the management team in developing and executing Tropitone’s future growth strategies.

Cal Flame Grills Receives European Certification
Cal Flame has announced the receipt of a certificate of compliance with European Community (or CE) Standards for Cal Flame grills, carts and side burners from Intertek, a third-party products- and commodities-testing organization. To achieve certified status, Cal Flame products were first tested at Intertek laboratories in California and then evaluated in New York and in England, where they were found to meet the requirements for CE compliance.

Casey Loyd, president of Cal Spas, says, “Cal Spas hot tubs are extremely popular throughout Europe. In fact, we have seen a significant increase in international sales over the past year. With Cal Flame products CE certified, Cal Spas can now offer the total home-resort lifestyle internationally.”

Skyline Design Receives Exclusive Distribution Rights for Canada
Skyline Design U.S.A., a luxury outdoor-furniture company, has become Skyline Design North America through an agreement under which it acquired exclusive distribution rights to the Canadian market. The agreement, which was executed by Skyline Design U.S.A., is consistent with the company’s strategy of building a worldwide brand to generate sustainable revenues through multiple distribution channels.

Glen Raven Announces Staff Promotions
Glen Raven Custom Fabrics–Americas, maker of the Sunbrella® brand of performance fabrics, has announced the promotion of two senior designers to management positions. Greg Voorhis has been promoted to decorative fabrics design manager and Sara Hall has been named technical design manager.

Voorhis is responsible for directing styling and color for indoor and outdoor Sunbrella furniture lines, decorative window products, marine interior products and distribution collections. Voorhis is also responsible for color and trend analysis for all Glen Raven Custom Fabrics markets. A graduate of Lander University with a bachelor’s degree in fine art, Voorhis has more than 13 years of experience in home-furnishings design.

Hall serves as a liaison between Glen Raven research and development and the design group, responsible for the development of innovative new products. She also directs the development of fabrics for awnings, marine exteriors and sun-control products, as well as all non-Sunbrella products, such as contract wall covering and upholstery. A graduate of the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s degree in fine art, Hall has more than 20 years of experience in home-furnishings design.

Simpson Dura-Vent Acquires ProTech Systems
Stephen P. Eberhard, president and CEO of Simpson Dura-Vent Company, Inc., recently announced that the company has purchased 100 percent of the stock of Protech Systems, Inc., a New York-based company. Protech Systems Inc. is a leading manufacturer of special gas vents for residential, commercial and industrial applications.

The company also manufactures flexible stainless-steel chimney liners for masonry chimneys. Protech is known for its patented FasNSeal special gas-vent systems, which are designed for the venting of condensing boilers and water heaters. ProTech Systems is also the North American distributor and marketer for Ventinox flexible stainless-steel chimney lining systems.

Whitecraft Appoints New VP of Sales
Casual indoor- and outdoor-furniture manufacturer Whitecraft has hired industry veteran David Morris Jr, as vice president of sales. Morris will be responsible for the management of all company sales activities, including contract and hospitality sales, as well as for organizing and managing the sales team. Morris has served in senior-level positions with lighting and furniture manufacturers. Most recently, he was responsible for national accounts for a contemporary and transitional home-furnishings manufacturer.

Z-Flex Moves to Reduce Carbon Footprint
Z-Flex U.S. Inc. has recently completed a retrofit of its manufacturing facility in Bedford, N.H., in order to reduce the plant’s carbon footprint. This recent phase of the retrofit focused on replacing the plant’s entire lighting system, including the plant and office areas. New high-efficiency fixtures and bulbs were used. While this upgrade incurred an expected cost, it allowed Z-Flex to participate in the New Hampshire Power Authority’s rebate program, which encourages businesses to make these types of changes in order to save power.

Groovystuff Expands High Point Showroom
Eco-conscious home-furnishings manufacturer Groovystuff now has nearly 2,000 more square feet of space for showcasing its one-of-a-kind home furnishings at the High Point Market. With this expansive new addition to its showroom on the ground floor of the Suites at Market Square (G-1148), the company has increased its display space from 200 square feet to 2,700 square feet in just eight short years.

Groovystuff debuted at the October 2000 market with a modest 200–square-foot showroom on the top floor of the Suites at Market Square and grew to an 800–square-foot ground-floor space in the same building for the following market. With its new expanded showroom, the company is perfectly positioned to continue serving the growing needs of the sustainable-furniture market.

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