Bill Taylor, CEO, and Jeff Denny, COO, represent the new leadership at Rowley Company, and are trying to expand the company’s role in the custom window coverings industry.
In a conversation with Draperies & Window Coverings, Taylor talked about what he sees ahead for the company.
“It’s a two-apart idea,” he said. “Obviously we want to continue to honor the legacy [of R.H. Rowley], and maintain our core value and our core product lines and what Rowley is and where Rowley comes from. If it was an essential item or component that you needed for a workroom or installation, Rowley has always been the leader in providing it and always will be a leader. We will continue to honor that legacy.
“Our five-year plan is really about how do we fulfill a statement that has historically been made about Rowley that was partially true—I don’t think it was totally true—and that is: Rowley is a one-stop shop. I think we were a one-stop shop for essential items. When you think about Rowley being a bigger part of the fashion side of this industry, I think there’s a lot we can add to our menu of items so that we truly become a one-stop shop.
“Our five-year plan is really about bringing in the critical new products and innovative products that customers are looking for that add value to their businesses, help them solve problems and provide [business and design] solutions going forward. I want to achieve the one-stop shop that Rowley can be and has the platform to build on already in place. We can do that with the right investments in our business—and potentially even the right acquisitions-—and by making sure we continue to add skilled and empowered industry-knowledgeable people to our team.
“That’s a big idea. We know that, but we believe that Rowley certainly has the credibility and the brand stewardship and the core values from 25–plus years of being in business to pull that off.”
D&WC: This plan includes staying focus on to-the-trade business?
Taylor: Absolutely. That’s been the legacy and the promise of Rowley. We’re not going to change that. There are opportunities for Rowley that weren’t leveraged in the past that I think we can do in the future.
D&WC: What background do you and Jeff Denny bring that are important to what you want to do?
Taylor: When you take a company that was a successful family-owned business and try to go to the next level, you need a team that blends with the family team and is led by one or two guys such as myself and Jeff who have been there and grown small to medium-size businesses into large businesses.
My background from growing a small North Carolina company into a multi-national company serves very well in making sure we make the right decisions and make the right investments to make that happen. We’re very entrepreneurial. We’re very driven by customer service and product innovation. We’re process driven in relation to making sure we do things in an efficient and function manner.
Jeff’s background comes from the same, but from promotional and marketing. Direct marketing is a core strength in helping our business go directly to our current customers in a more efficient and timely manner.
That’s the strength we’re bringing to the table. Beyond Jeff and myself, we bring a team that has middle market business experience—we were a bit more structured and disciplined. Taking a company from a family-owned business that was an industry player to being a one-stop shop and taking even more of an industry-leading role beyond our core business today takes a little bit of a structured and disciplined team.
D&WC: What’s the one most important thing you’d tell your customers to start doing tomorrow in order to be in a good position when business picks up again?
Taylor: I want to say four or five things because they don’t change, you just have to do more of them.
I think the biggest thing is to manage your relationships and manage your customers very, very well.
This is a time when people are stressed. People generally pull back from investing. Targeting strategic investing is critical at this time because you can win new business and new customers by being a little bit more aggressive in your acquisitions.
Watch your costs like you always would. Make sure you manage you costs very, very well. Find ways for people to help you manage your costs. That could be anybody within your network.
Extending the Legacy