D&WC: Please give a detailed
description of your company and its history.
Pam Pugh: Founded in 1867, making 2002 its 135th anniversary year, Conso Products was originally a millinery trimmings company. Owned by Conso International Corp. and headquartered in Union, SC, the company has grown to become the largest manufacturer of decorative trimmings for the home furnishings industry in the world.
The company has two production facilities in Union covering 436,000 square feet; a 100,000-square-foot production facility in Juarez, Mexico; facilities in Stockpot, England; a second dye house facility in Leek, England; and a hand assembly plant in Coimbatore, India. Currently, Conso Products has 1,218 employees.
Initially dealing with millinery trimmings for the fashion industry, Conso adapted to the growing trend of trimmings in the home. Our products today revolve around the largest selection of stock items ever offered. Special needs for different sales markets have led us to manufacture products in a variety of yarns. We use rayon and acetate, cotton, polyester, UFAC-approved yarns for the furniture industry and, as of late, less traditional media in trimmings and accessory products. Raffia; shell; wooden, metal and glass beads; and even feathers are finding their way into some of our more unusual designs.
D&WC: What one product or line stands out above the rest?
Pugh: Today’s stock collections number 33, including those from British Trimmings, Ltd. To offer our customers a wholly coordinated look, a collection comprises standard trimmings styles such as cord; cords with an attached lip; various brush, loop and tassel fringes; and bullions. Accessory pieces also are included within a collection. These pieces coordinate in color and style with the trimmings and may include curtain tiebacks, key tassels and buttons.
Each collection is constructed of a particular yarn. In the Duke Collection we use UFAC-approved polyester, while King Cotton utilizes cotton yarn, for example.
Collections are added to every year to keep up with new styles trends and colors, and less-than-auspicious sellers are deleted from the line on a rotating schedule. We sometimes add one new trimmings line, sometimes more than one. These decisions usually are dictated by style trends. Where we see a need, we try to fill it.
We have several collections that have become industry standards: Empress, Imperial, Princess I and Princess II, and several newer lines that are rapidly falling into the best-seller category. The Marrakech Collection, as well as the Beaded Opulence Collection are prime examples of new designs, new materials that the industry has responded to in a very positive way.
D&WC: Is your business computerized? Do you have a company Web site, and how is it used to communicate with customers?
Pugh: Conso is computerized from customer service all the way to shipping. Our Web site is updated routinely with information that will educate and entertain our customers and catalog products are updated yearly, when the printed version goes live. Customers may view all of our catalog products on the site: www.conso .com.
We have an e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org, that has been used by many Internet surfers to date. Our goal is to use the Internet to assist customers with any questions they may have about our products and how to use them. We also offer our distributor list for members of the interior design trade to help them find their closest source.
D&WC: Who are your customers? What parts of the country do you service?
Pugh: Our customers include retailers, manufacturers and distributors who, in turn, provide the products to their customers. We sell nationwide and in 26 foreign countries. This network of customers truly makes us a global company.
Conso prides itself in being a customer-driven, one-stop supplier of decorative trimmings, workroom supplies, decorative accessories and window hardware. Providing consistent, good quality products at reasonable prices has always been priority one.
D&WC: How many salespeople do you employ?
Pugh: Our sales force currently numbers 24. It handles all Conso products, as well as represents our subsidiary companies, Simplicity Patterns and Wm. Wright Co. We also have three company showrooms in New York, NY; Hickory, NC; and Miami, FL. These facilities are staffed with salespeople year round.
D&WC: What are your strengths in the marketplace?
Pugh: We really feel our strengths lie in the fact that we are the largest trimmings supplier in the world; we have a huge stock collection. Customers may purchase trimmings in 24-yard bolts, which is a manageable amount of product for smaller businesses to deal with.
Our color ranges are very broad, and because we have an on-site dye house, we are able to control dye lots more easily than if we purchased pre-dyed yarns. Our own dye house allows us to maintain a collection of 197 stock colors as well as special dyes formulated to meet customer specifications.
Another of our strengths lies in our customer service department. We have three specialized areas covering manufacturing specials, international and domestic customers. Conso is fortunate that several of our customer service reps have been with the company for 35 years or more. These ladies have all the answers concerning our product and company.
D&WC: Do you offer any products other than window coverings?
Pugh: We offer many other window–oriented products in addition to our tassels and trimmings. Since 1994, when we first entered the window hardware venue, we’ve grown to include 13 decorative hardware collections to our catalog. They include traditional brass styles, styles formed from hand-sculpted resin, painted wood, a very unique European-type hanging system, and finials that match decorative tassels, to name a few.
As a new venture for 2002, we’ve designed a decorative hardware line that coordinates directly with a line of trimmings that have been particularly successful for us, the Marrakech Collection. Also new for 2002 is the Universal Motorized System, which has the power to silently move curtains, vertical blinds or shades with a convenient remote control and rechargeable battery.
We also update our workroom supplies yearly with products designed to make life easier for workrooms.
In addition to window hardware and workroom supplies, we also offer window jewelry items, which are growing hugely in popularity. These pieces coordinate with existing hardware and tassels or stand alone. They are used to accent draperies, pillows and even show up sometimes on customer’s clothing.
Conso Products Co.
513 N. Duncan Bypass
Union, SC 29379