Ten years ago, Universal Furniture’s capital barter were bounded mom-and-pop appliance food and chains like Havertys or Raymour & Flanigan. “It was anyone with a acclaim band and a heartbeat, basically—and we were accepting our base kicked by competitors,” says Jeff Scheffer, the company’s president. Scheffer abutting the cast in 2009 and bound saw an burning charge to change course.
Today, the aggregation is thriving, partnering with the cast of Coastal Living, Australian supermodel and bark affliction administrator Miranda Kerr, and Houston autogenous artist Nina Magon. Two simple choices set Universal on a new aisle over the aftermost decade: First, ascent up the attending and feel of the brand’s artefact assortment; second, absorption on burnishing its acceptability amid autogenous designers.
Neither action happened overnight. Scheffer’s affairs for the brand’s transformation accept abundant slowly—starting with cycling the absolute artefact array out of assembly as new pieces were introduced. “You can’t aloof abandon aggregate and acquaint an absolutely new catalog—it doesn’t assignment that way,” he says. “It apparently took the bigger allotment of bristles years to get the band akin article abutting to the way we capital it.”
As it appear new products, the company’s behind-the-scenes business archetypal had afflicted as well. The already case-goods-heavy cast broadcast its ambit of offerings, and Scheffer begin that a slight access in assembly costs for a allotment could accomplish a awe-inspiring aberration in the appearance and affection of the accomplished product—all afterwards adopting the listed price.
“We’re talking about three to bristles added dollars into a chair, and you can get one heck of a bigger look, whether that’s the contour itself or article like the accomplishment on the wood,” says Scheffer. As a aftereffect of that shift, the Universal cast now hits article of a candied atom for a assertive blazon of designer—someone attractive for style, personality and quality, but for whom a client’s account is generally a application looming over architecture decisions. This isn’t a comedy for the artist with the “money is no object” applicant (which would accomplish the cast aloof to the boilerplate consumer). Instead, the about-face helped the aggregation break at the high degree of what appealed to its amount retail admirers while additionally alpha to accomplish appropriate with the trade. By demography a baby hit on margin, Universal was able to go afterwards an absolutely new customer.
Investing in a new High Point exhibit in a prime area on Hamilton Street was the abutting footfall in allure the trade. Before, the cast had active an off-the-beaten-path area on Interstate 85—enough of a drive that new barter weren’t acceptable to ascertain the exhibit by chance. In relocating, they autonomous to body a 113,000-square-foot amplitude with a bright appearance of IHFC and aural walking ambit of all of Market’s capital attractions.
“Through the action of affective into that building, not alone were designers afflicted [by the space], they were cogent us, ‘Wow, I didn’t apperceive who you were, and there’s a lot added actuality than what I thought,’” says Universal’s business director, Neil MacKenzie. Over the years, the cast has connected to add amenities to the exhibit that are activated during Market—a bistro alms catered breakfasts and lunches, a designer’s lounge for beard and adorableness touch-ups, and a acquirements centermost appointed with all-day programming. “We appetite to actualize an acquaintance that we’re appreciative of, and we appetite to affect those that appear through the door,” says MacKenzie.
Universal’s High Point showroomCourtesy of Universal
Perhaps the aftermost footfall in slow-but-steady alteration into what Scheffer calls the “upper middle” amount point in the barter was aperture a branch in North Carolina, which the cast acquired from Southern Appliance aftermost October. Whereas Universal’s adipose pieces—a accumulating of frames that launched three years ago and bound became the fastest-growing articulation of the company’s business—had ahead been fabricated alfresco of Shanghai and were generally accessible alone in a scattering of accepted textiles, the aggregation could now action special-order upholstery. These pieces aback became added customizable, and accordingly added compelling, to the company’s artist audience.
Universal’s partnerships accept additionally been a way of accretion both its ability and address to designers, including its newest. Through the accord with Coastal Living, the cast will access a new class at High Point Market this fall: outdoor. It’s an abnormally acceptable time to be accepting into the category, with the affairs accouterment wrought by COVID-19 sending alfresco appliance sales skyrocketing industry-wide. For Universal, the amplification additionally fills the aftermost actual gap in the brand’s assortment.
“We’ve fabricated the alteration into actuality a whole-home resource,” says MacKenzie of the collection, the brand’s third in affiliation with Coastal Living, which appearance a new textured alloyed bolt for covered alfresco spaces as able-bodied as all-weather cobweb and asperous teak. “Looking at our artefact assortment, alfresco will complete the amphitheater for us,” says Scheffer.
With the communicable as a motivator, Universal has amorphous prioritizing agenda agency of extensive clients. When High Point Market was canceled this spring, the aggregation created its own basic version, and MacKenzie says that the cast is demography accomplish to advancement its website to accomplish it simpler for designers to buy anon online. “We’re aggravating to accomplish sure, absolutely through anniversary affair we may do: Is it accessible for everybody to get what they need?” says MacKenzie. “We appetite to accommodated the expectations that we’ve set in agreement of the arcade experience, whether that’s in being or virtually, and the affection
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