Friday, February 20, 2009

One of the biggest issues we faced at the Las Vegas Market show and in general is pricing. We make a product in the United States, we make it the old fashioned way with a great deal of pride in the craftsmanship, we make it to last, and we make it as sustainably as possible. This is not inexpensive. Is it worth it to the customer? Does anyone care about these issues? It is hard to believe so, because there is so much made in Indonesia, Vietnam, China and in Latin America that does not have our qualities and yet sells well. We have not lost faith in finding the people that care about these issues, and we are also looking for alternative ways to lower our costs. It isn't easy feeling like the lone wolf out there. There is a "sustainable" section of the Market, where companies can display their product. Many of those also came from overseas. How long before people question the energy/carbon footprint to bring these products over the ocean? We are going to be here and keep going at it. Please let us know if you have any thoughts.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Las Vegas Day four and five

There is excellent entertainment at the trade show and its not the mariachi band nor the Aretha Franklin or B-52 imitator bands that they hired. It is the people watching and the strange things you can see. One day a booth behind us that had some upholstered furniture was visited by a designer. She decided to have a seat in the lounge chair. Next thing that everyone noticed was that she had fallen asleep in the chair. She stayed in that position for 45 minutes and many people were snapping phone pictures of her. The owners of the booth were just hoping that she didn't drool on the fabric. Yesterday Steffi Graf was walking around. I'm not sure if she actually designs anything for Kreiss but her and Andre Aggasi's names are on a line of their furniture. When the show was wrapping up, in the final few minutes that they were open and lady was walking aroung asking if there were show samples for sale. When she came by my booth I told her that everything was for sale at deeply discounted pricing. She said she was hoping for "free". I thought that was a lot of nerve, acting like a vulture on the last minute of the show to see if she could furnish her house for nothing. There were cowboys and blonde bimbos walking around sometimes with each other and sometimes not. There was a man in a ski hat and sunglasses walking around inside, and we weren't sure if he was here to steal the furniture or to shop for it. We served champagne and chocolate and some of the other vendors thought we were providing a service to them rather than attracting potential customers. In the end, we are not sure how the show has been for us because there weren't any actual sales made. In the next few months we will find out if the experience and the cost was worth it. But it was entertaining.....

Trade show day three

The foot traffic is down and the days are long because there aren't a great deal of potential clients to talk to. This is a hard problem for everyone to deal with. You can see the optimists and the pessimists splitting quite quickly as a result of this. There is one vendor we call Mr. Sunshine that has something negative to say about any subject from the oatmeal at his hotel to the husband of a potential client and he calls this trade show the most dreadful he has ever seen. We talked to another vendor who is disappointed to have taken in only $60,000.00 in orders so far -which far exceeds the amount that anyone else I have talked to has done. We have not done so well in objective measurements but I remain hopeful. We have made many contacts and potential future clients. We have mad many connections and networked some interesting possible innovations in the way we manufacture our products. I hope we have spread the word about our product, its quality, its being made in the US and its green qualities... Tomorrow is the last day and we are keeping our heads up.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Las Vegas Day two

In the Las Vegas Trade show booth again today, I have been faced with the reality of the global economy. We produce everything by hand in Ohio, the United States and do it at the highest standards of quality and material integrity. This is an expensive way to produce furniture. It makes our pricing "high end", but not necessarily our profit. At the trade show there seem to be as many people who want to sell you things as there are people who are potential customers of yours. Several of the first category have approached me and propositioned me on the potential of having our product made in Vietnam or Indonesia or India. I know that we live in a global economy and that most of the production for furniture today is being made elsewhere than in the US. One of the US based production companies here - they have a factory in California - put together an ad for the World Market Directory and listed the companies that make their product in the US. It is a small list that is here. We are on it with 29 other companies. I cannot count how many companies are exhibiting here. These salesmen are offering to make a product that costs me about $1200 to make in Ohio for $75 in Indonesia or Vietnam! How do we say no to these temptations and talk people into the importance of buying from domestic producers? I am searching for options to make things in our geographic area with a larger production to bring the cost down. Our company is located near the largest Amish furniture making section of the country so that may be where we head for solutions.....

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I'm sitting at the Las Vegas World Market Trade show this week. Today is day two. Trade shows are strange beasts, each attracting different types of crowds. One gets to know the vendors around you as each day you are standing in your booth for ten hours hoping for a sale or two. This show has been as slow as the summer show where we didn't end up selling anything. I am hoping for a good remaining three days, or we probably won't be back here again. The neighbors fit into certain categories: there is the crazy guy who doesn't really fit in and who ends up doing annoying things to you during the week like talking incessantly to you while you are trying to flag down the high end designer walking by your booth and avoiding the annoying booth neighbor. There is the foreign company that doesn't speak much or any english and whose ideas of marketing and graphic design is to stick some 8" x 11 1/2" copies from Kinkos on the walls. There is Mr. Sunshine who has something negative to say at almost any turn and on any subject such as being charged $60 for a breakfast of oatmeal at his hotel. The first trade show I did in Chicago, there was a company whose main salesman threw stationary items in the air and in the directions of attendees. We finally had to call security because he was scaring away everyone. I have seen cowboys and blonde bimbo designers here. There many Canadians and Mexicans. The Canadians are bummed out about the current status of the exchange rate which is not in their favor. I'm not sure what the Mexicans are shopping for here that they can't get produced in their country. More tomorrow....