Levolor Home Fashions[TM] (LHF) was formed in 1994 when Newell Co., owner of industry leader Levolor, purchased Home Fashions, Inc. Joanna Window Fashions, known for its popular roller shades, was acquired in 1995, and the company now features the product lines of LevolorŽ, LouverDrape[TM], Del MarŽ and JoannaŽ brands.
LHF provides more focused service, allowing customers to utilize its powerful brands to design unique programs from one source. Each brand maintains its unique market position. Four divisions have been established to handle different aspects of the business: Levolor Home Fashions Retail, LouverDrape Fabrication, Levolor Home Fashions Contract and Levolor Home Fashions Canada/ International.
The persona of Levolor Home Fashions is that we are core specific -- we have brought together companies that represent their industries. For example, LouverDrape is verticals; Levolor is horizontals; Del Mar is pleated shades; and Joanna is roller shades. This gives us full line expertise providing consumers with the best product, expertise and innovation. No other company within the industry has this advantage of core line representation. We also have a resource in Newell being our parent company in that it is a financial horsepower that holds management expertise in transitional markets like ours. No business could have gone through such a monumental process as our recent systems conversion without this strong backing and management expertise to pull off the project successfully.
D&WC: Please tell us about the systems conversion.
We recently converted to Newell's state-of-the-art operational and order processing system. Not just a window coverings company, but a retail industry leader and a national retail sales guru, Newell's operating system allows us to give fast, accurate and timely customer service.
In 1997, LHF will introduce Custom Express, the most sophisticated custom ordering system in the market with ease of use. Custom Express is a PC-based system that will assist the sales associate and consumer through the process of ordering a custom window covering error free. An order will not be able to be processed through the system if there is an error, thus greatly reducing time spent for call-backs, remakes and returns.
D&WC: Who are your customers?
We target independent regional retailers, fabricators, distributors, key national department stores, contractors and national chains.
D&WC: How many salespeople do you employ?
Our approach in supporting these channels is proactive in that we have four separate sales, marketing and customer service entities solely dedicated to servicing our four target customer bases supported by a national selling organization and a specific customer service group. For infrequent purchasers, we have a professional staff of inside sales available by phone to answer questions and to help customers build their businesses. With our network of fabricator and distributor partners, we undoubtedly have one of the largest and most efficient forces in the industry representing our brands.
D&WC: How has your segment of the industry changed?
In the 1980s, the regimen was the more products you had, the more you had to sell. By selling the LHF4 philosophy (one company/four differentiated brands), we are stating that a stronger need exists for customer market differentiation. It is imperative that the industry go with a product/service regimen to differentiate themselves and their product offering from that of the competition. At LHF, we believe that simple is better! We believe in cutting through the confusion by offering a simple selling proposition to the customer.
The fabricator concept has increased quite considerably since its beginnings in the mid-'70s, and LouverDrape has traditionally been our foundation of the fabricator product lines. As a result of creating our Fabricator/Distributor Division, this combination of the two channels allows us to expand our focus to the distributor as well with an offering of Levolor distributed products.
D&WC: Where do you see your company five years from now?
In regard to our fabricator/distributor partners, they will continue to keep us at the top of this ever-growing channel. We have not seen other parties within the industry dedicate a portion of their business to exclusively support this customer. We will continue to offer customer-specific promotions and product mixes to allow our fabricator/distributor partners the opportunity to take advantage of their local presence.
Our direct retail and national accounts, too, will continue to benefit from our focused sales and specific product mixes. We feel our key to helping our customers maximize their profit potential will be our focused sales and service, fashionable choices, simplified propositions including differentiated product mixes and ordering procedures.
D&WC: What factors are involved in your growth and success?
Specific channel dedication, superior customer service support and the LHF4 philosophy will be what makes the difference between LHF and the competitor in the future. We have implemented changes that made a huge impact on our company, including combining four companies, cultures and organizations into one company with four brands dedicated to maximizing profit and growth in its sector. In 1997, customers will reap the benefits of the changes we executed this year to include one call resolution. Providing a way to make the business transaction as easy and efficient as possible is the most important asset we can give our customer. Plus, we have a strong parent company in Newell to help create this pattern and system of growth and success by which we are influenced.
D&WC: What trends and cycles do you see occuring in the industry?
In the 1990s, specifically the latter '90s, we see an upsurge in simplicity -- fewer, more diverse choices with a clear, definitive selling proposition, allowing a clearer value choice by the consumer. The retail layout at this point includes large retail national chains, as a major portion, boutiques and major independent retailers. Our fabricator and distributor division offers a great service to boutique retailers, who are not disappearing, but instead are reinventing themselves and flourishing. We, too, are changing to serve this reinvention. When decorating, the average customer wants to know he or she is making the right decision. They get this reassurance much better with a boutique retailer that can provide more efficient service.
D&WC: Do you educate your customers?
Our sales representatives train our customers regularly through product seminars and training videotapes. Our national account representatives have just completed a training series entitled, "Levolor Olympics," that included not only teaching new product knowledge but also added a little friendly competition. Levolor Olympics was a great success with the accounts. Due to our great fabricator and distributor network, there always are presentations on LHF product conducted by our own sales force or our fabricator/distributor partners. For the future, we will support materials targeting product applications and how-tos in conjunction with price lists, serving a consumer and a customer base, as well as a unique sales proposition that localized fabrication and distribution brings to point of sale.
D&WC: Are there additional topics you would like to address?
The opportunity for our customers' growth is unlimited with the LHF4 power due to our ability to provide a strong product mix specific to the customer. This allows that customer to differentiate himself from the competition, thereby maximizing his profitability. LHF will continue to provide new products in the market that are strong in quality and fashion. The coming year will bring about the national launch of Levolor UltraDark; embossed PVC verticals; Levolor Cirrus Cellular Designer Textiles; LouverDrape Fabricel Altantis; Levolor Heartland, a fabricated metal blind; a strong new woven wood line; and other introductions in the second half of the year.
Levolor Home Fashions
4110 Premier Dr.
High Point, NC 27265
fax: (910) 881-5862
High Point headquarters include a 50,000-square-foot office building and a 193,000-square-foot plant. Employing approximately 2,300 associates, LHF's other locations include: Athens, GA; Garden Grove and Westminster, CA; Rockaway, NJ; Ogden and Salt Lake City, UT; South Holland, IL; and Mexico.