Loving the Challenge
D&WC: Please give a
detailed description of your company and its history.
Will Knieper: I founded Forest
Group USA Inc. in May 1995 as a one-person operation in the basement
of my home importing the KS System for nationwide marketing and
We have seen very healthy growth over the past seven years and now
employ 10 people and operate out of a proudly owned 1,600-square-foot
building. Forest Group is an international company with locations
in the Netherlands, Poland and Australia and is distributed in more
than 50 countries.
D&WC: What window coverings
products did you handle initially? What products do you handle today?
Knieper: We started with our
KS slim line track system and filled a niche in the marketplace
through our ability to curve and bend the track into any shape possible
and still provide superior handling. Today we have three additional
lines of functional hardware to service the contractor, residential
and the recreational markets.
Next to our functional KS Systems, we have a full line of uniquely
designed decorative hardware, which we started two years ago. Today
we offer more than 30 different designs in seven different finishes
with an abundance of finials and brackets.
In addition to our hardware, we also sell and market a complete
line of sewing machines and drapery workroom equipment imported
from the Netherlands. This highly automated workroom concept can
produce up to three times the production over the conventional systems.
Currently, we have several larger and smaller workrooms successfully
using this concept; among them is the JCPenney workroom in Sacramento,
D&WC: Give a percentage
breakdown of these products. What one product or line stands out
above the rest?
Knieper: Our KS System still
makes up 60 percent of our overall sales subdivided evenly—50
percent residential and 50 percent commercial. The sewing machines/workroom
concepts are equal and are good for 25 percent of our sales. They
have shown healthy growth over the last three years.
Last but not least is our decorative hardware, already after only
one-and-a-half years it makes up 15 percent of our overall sales.
My belief is that this part of our business will show the fastest
growth just by the overwhelming interest shown from designers nationwide.
D&WC: What best describes
your niche in the marketplace?
Knieper: When we started with
the KS System we were definitely a niche player. After the additional
products we have added we are now recognized as a manufacturer/importer
servicing and marketing nationwide. We are not the new guys on the
block anymore, and offer a real good alternative to established
D&WC: Who are your customers?
What parts of the country do you service?
Knieper: Our customers basically
are window coverings professionals. We market all of our products
nationwide through advertising, trade shows, direct marketing and
good old sales calls.
Our products are sold through a nationwide network of specialized
dealers/distributors in most all states of the United States. In
a case that we do not have a distributor in a certain area who can
service our lines, we will then sell and service our products from
our home office.
D&WC: What are some of
the key factors involved in your growth and success?
Knieper: Our niche is that we
are constantly on the go. We listen to what our customers’
needs are and then try to come up with the right solutions for making
the products better or easier to use.
I believe that my background as a drapery installer for 11 years
and my quest for excellence helps me every day to think of new and
different solutions. I love a good challenge and there still are
plenty of them out there.
D&WC: Where do you see
yourself and your company five years from now? Are there additional
areas within the industry that you would like to get involved in?
Knieper: I see Forest Group
following our same pace of growths—adding more innovative products
such as panel tracks, Roman shade hardware, affordable motorized
drapery hardware, additional lines of uniquely designed decorative
I want to elevate our company into one of the largest window coverings
suppliers in the industry, while staying within our core business:
drapery hardware for the industry professional. If a potential customer
doesn’t know us, or has not tried our products yet, I would
invite them to request our free sample package to see for themselves
that we offer great products at a competitive price. We are here
to stay, that’s a promise.
Forest Group USA, Inc.
1500 Donn Dr.
Cartersville, GA 30102
fax: (678) 721-0023