March 2006 Newsletter
Welcome back to our newsletters.
It has been about a year and a half since our last newsletter. During that time we have evolved to the changing market forces gripping the American manufacturing sector, especially the furniture industry. It has been a more than full time job to stay on top of the changing marketplace. Many of the suppliers that we dealt with have gone out of business. We have had to find new suppliers for many of our components. The price of the foam used in the seats has increased over 200% since last October as foam is produced from petroleum products. However we have had so many requests to send the newsletters that we have had to allot the time to make this as important as any other operation within the company.
We have moved the factory twice since the last newsletter. Once due to a flood and once because we found a building that was much more suited to our needs. The biggest change has been to our marketing strategy. We no longer sell to stores. In the past, about 55% of our output went to stores, with 20% going to designers and the contract trade and 25% going to online sales. We now do 75% of our business online (70% through our websites and 5% through eBay) with 25% going to designers and the contract trade. This was a major decision that was not taken lightly. It was also a very risky strategy. When one cuts off over 50% of ones business, one risks losing the business. However it has worked out well and has made us a much stronger company. Learning to deal with the public on a daily basis was something we did not have to do in the past and that was a learning curve that I think will continue for a long time. The resumption of this newsletter is one of the things we learned from the public. Come back next month for the story about the customer from hell and our love hate relationship with eBay because of her. It should make for amusing reading.
(Reprinted from the first newsletter) There is no secret that the US and Canadian furniture industries are in a state of change, as more and more products are "out sourced" and more and more manufacturers are either going out of business or becoming distribution centers for imported product. We have built our niche by concentrating on building our furniture here in Los Angeles. Although we cannot compete against 57 cent an hour labor (the current average labor rate in Chinese furniture factories) we can do things that cannot be done off shore. First, we can offer fast delivery. We do not have to wait for the boat. We can offer 20 different fabrics and 15 different colors. For someone to import furniture, they would have to bring in 300 different combinations of each product to offer the selection that we do. 20 fabrics x 15 colors = 300 different choices for each model. We can offer the ability to have you send us your fabric and have the furniture done exactly the way you want it. We can also modify the furniture by altering the size, configuration, and myriad other ways of customizing it to your exact requirements. By selling directly to the public, we can still remain very competitive on the price. Lastly, by having all employees own a piece of the company, we maintain a company wide devotion to quality and service.
With that out of the way, I shall get right into the newsletter.
I am pleased to announce that Paulette Bailey in Houston TX is the winner of a beautiful glass cutting board.
Paulette, you have until 31 March to contact us with your address so we can send this to you. Congratulations.
On 30 March we shall draw a name to win a set of candle sticks
We here in the Los Angeles area are fortunate to have a computer guru sharing his knowledge with us every Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Radio station KNX airs Jeff Levy's Computer News. Jeff is quite a showman but also quite knowledgeable about computers, how and why they work, and is very generous about sharing that knowledge. Callers are encouraged to call in during the show with their problems and Jeff will guide them through the resolution of the problem. You can click on the KNX link and listen to Jeff every Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 Noon until 2:00 PM Pacific Time or you can visit Jeff's website, Jefflevy.com
About a year or so ago we added exercise bars to our line up of products. We sell some on eBay but most are sold on a website we devoted to the exercise bars and speaker stands. speakerUPPERS.
Since the last newsletter life has gone on. On a the personal side of my life, I lost my brother-in-law Jim Corboy. Jim was a Marine during the Korean Conflict and a retired Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff. A huge Irishman, he was fun, generous, and a pleasure to be around. I miss him very much and think about him often. Semper Fi Jim. I have also lost two foster kids. One to a drunk driver and one to cancer.
My foster son William has gotten married and moved on to other things and is no longer part of the company. He and his bride want to leave California. Yesterday my nephew had his third child, a baby girl. The Mann family is still growing. Tilo, my exchange student in Berlin had a baby girl. More about that in next month's letter. I am in good health but have been diagnosed with type II diabetes. I control it with a very mild dose of Metformin and watching the diet. No more doughnuts. It is hard to start my day at 4:00 AM with a pill instead of a doughnut but I am getting used to it. My morning cup of tea sans the doughnut is growing on me. Poking my finger every couple of days to test my blood sugar is definitely not growing on me.
Linda, our seamstress, has undergone a liver transplant and is doing very well.
I do not want to get carried away with my verbiage so until next time,
Before I close, I would like to invite you to take a short survey about our website. Participants will receive a certificate for a $25.00 discount for any product from our website. You may use the discount yourself or you may pass it on to your friends. Obviously Mann family members and commercial customers receiving this newsletter are not eligible for the discount. Click here to take the survey
Until next month
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