Pelican reef Delivers with Panama Jack
Dealers tally up variety, style and value equations
Cinde Ingram -- Casual Living, December 21, 2012
The six-piece St. Barth’s sectional, made of extruded powder-coated aluminum frames woven with a thick brown pine fi ber, is part of a complete collection, new to the Panama Jack brand.
"Since we were known for our indoor wicker and rattan offerings, recently with the addition of Panama Jack Outdoor to our patio furniture lineups, we have landed on people's radar because of the brand name recognition," said Allen Calzadilla, president, Pelican Reef.
Consumers were introduced to the Panama Jack brand in the mid-1970s as the company developed a line of beach lifestyle products ranging from beach chairs and umbrellas to swimwear, sandals, shoes, hats and jewelry. In 2010, Panama Jack expanded to add luggage and beach cruiser bicycles to its lineup. In 2011, Panama Jack branched out to offer indoor and outdoor furniture. The casual styles and price points of the furniture Pelican Reef created for Panama Jack are targeted to the younger generation of consumers, and the value-oriented collection makes casual furniture retailers more competitive with mass merchant suppliers in their territories.
That focus on retail was nothing new to Pelican Reef, which started in 1983 as a third-generation family business with a retail background. Headquartered in the Miami Lakes area of South Florida, Pelican Reef was created to supply an array of wicker and rattan products to retailers, interior designers and commercial projects with a price point lineup of imported woven goods.
Pelican Reef grew during the 1990s as it exhibited at the regional Karel Exposition markets and introduced many collections of case goods, wicker dining sets and plenty of barstools. "Buyers purchased these products every August from us at this show and we built a reputation as one of the larger distributers of quality rattan and wicker products on the East Coast of the country," Calzadilla said.
Panama Jack Adirondack, side table and signature hat keep the fun, coastal lifestyle growing.
As the Florida housing market was rebounding and rebuilding in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew in the mid-'90s, insurance money was flowing and people were upgrading and moving in. The need for wicker and rattan furniture was growing simultaneously.
"From the onset, the Pelican Reef lineup has been extremely varied for many years, from 15-plus indoor seating groups, 20-plus indoor dining sets, 15- plus bedroom sets, 30-plus barstools and a variety of indoor accessories," Calzadilla said. "We have evolved into a solid, diverse business operating on the notion that the customer is right 97% of the time, and the other 3% we are wrong. We strive to keep our retailer dealers happy."
Calzadilla's family recognized that some of its competitors focused on indoor wicker, while others focused on outdoor items. "Then we added an entire array of outdoor patio furniture to the mix and we became a one-stop destination for any furniture retailer or designer looking for woven rattan, wicker and bamboo style products. Our warehoused lineup is one of the more diverse out there, and the variety of products we offer allows for many different dealer types."
Pelican Reef distanced itself from competitors by supplying "variety, style and value - plain and simple," Calzadilla said.
"We were important to indoor furniture stores as much as we are now to casual patio stores," he said of his family owned company's formative years. "Many people reading this article today haven't heard of Pelican Reef. Our brand name is relatively new to the casual furniture and patio retailer across North America."
Allen Calzadilla, president, Pelican Reef
Pelican Reef experienced steady yearly growth until 2007-2009, when the country entered years of recession.
"Our home state of Florida, with its No. 2 rank of foreclosures, was a tough marketplace to find new business in, so the obvious solution was to grow outside of Florida," Calzadilla said. "That was difficult with the main states of California, New York and Texas also experiencing tough times. It was an uphill battle that to this day still remains: Nothing is easy in this business. We exhibited at tradeshows across North America and slowly but surely were able to gain market share and grow outside of our home state."
As a proven supplier of products priced for value added perceptions, orders ship quickly from Pelican Reef's Florida distribution center, which exceeds 120,000 square feet with shelving to the roof and essentially doubles its storage capacity. Indoor and outdoor furniture is stocked in depth for quick shipments.
Large orders in 20-ft. or 40-ft. containers ship in three to five days from the Panama Jack China outdoor factory, where Pelican Reef maintains 50,000 square feet of stored inventory for Panama Jack outdoor shipments to enable quick delivery.
"Recently a Top 100 retailer ordered Panama Jack and they took delivery of their containers within 35 days of placing their container order," Calzadilla said. "This is what has set us apart from our competition in recent years."
In addition, Pelican Reef plans to locate a West Coast warehouse in California.
"With the corporate strength of being able to maintain stock of finished goods, both in the U.S. and overseas, along with the convenience of delivery time, styling and price points to the retailer are among our biggest assets and will bring banner years ahead of us," he said.
Panama Jack outdoor furnishings, including the new fi re pit, blend easily with the brand’s indoor lines at its corporate High Point showroom at Market on Green 208.
Pelican Reef participates in the U.S. home furnishings tradeshows in Chicago, High Point and Las Vegas. Calzadilla says all three have been beneficial for meeting with customers.
"We stand behind our products, and really want to help build our Pelican Reef brand and the Panama Jack brand as a major player in the casual furniture market," he said. "With the opening of our permanent showroom in Chicago last year, we have become very convenient for casual furniture buyers to visit. They obviously are loyal to the brands they have carried for many years, but slowly they have realized that Panama Jack outdoor warrants being part of their product offerings and selection. The story, the fun and the price points of the product are worth the floor space for the products."
Because of the company's retail background, its principals understand the challenges its dealers face so its 50-plus full-time employees and its entire team of independent sales representatives across North America work to supply them with a product line that helps keep the customer in the store.
"We offer a variety of monthly specials, point of purchase display items, and floor plan incentives to our stocking dealers," Calzadilla said. "With Panama Jack outdoor we offer stocking dealers wall signage, Panama Jack towels, drink coasters for dining sets, and even their famous hat for décor. Huffy International produce
Orders ship quickly from Pelican Reef’s Florida distribution center or from the Panama Jack China outdoor factory.
Stephen Giles, home collection agent for the Panama Jack brand, was equally complimentary about what Pelican Reef has brought to it. "We're ecstatic with the relationship we've had with Pelican Reef," he said. "They've taken the brand and translated it into patio furniture that adds excitement, fun and value at retail. With the newest additions of Westport Linens for top of bed and Palmetto Home for case goods, the consumer can really create the oasis at home."
When asked to describe what his company is like now, Calzadilla said, "Pelican Reef is on a roll."
"We have been extremely busy since 2010 with our outdoor furniture offerings, and since we became the Panama Jack outdoor licensee in 2011, the sky has been the limit," he said. "We were expected to launch a collection or two a year however within six months we have introduced five groupings of outdoor furniture, umbrellas, made in USA Adirondack chairs and even fire pits for Panama Jack outdoor.
"What sets us apart are the price points that we have created along with the excellent designs and craftsmanship," Calzadilla said. "With the recent introduction of the Island Breeze Collection as a well-built extruded aluminum complete outdoo
Dealers like the comfort and casual style of this new outdoor woven rocker.
"The price points and styling of the goods offered are retailing well because the Panama Jack brand has been around for over 30 years," he said, "and growth is to be continued as Pelican Reef is positioned properly for additional new collections yearly for both indoor and outdoor offerings."
With the momentum created through its new collections and price points, Pelican Reef is forecasting a very strong 2013. "We are working with many customers who already are planning their lineups for the 2013 and 2014 seasons," Calzadilla said. "Panama Jack outdoor and Pelican Reef wicker will be seen in more and more casual retailers across the country every month. When they do the research and truly cross-reference the price points for what they are getting, they realize it's a great value. They want to be part of the Panama Jack brand."
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