• Cinde Ingram

Supplying solutions

casually speaking from the editor

Smart retailers and manufacturers are doing things differently as the 2010 season approaches and the global economy slowly cranks back into shape.

One example was the number of indoor furniture and department stores shopping for home furnishings for covered porch and full outdoor uses at the fall markets.

Rug manufacturers displayed many more outdoor rugs near the front of their showrooms, not hidden in the back. The surprising success of the outdoor rug category is spreading not only in the United States, but in Canada, South America and Europe. As another example of manufacturers doing things differently, Surya Rugs has added outdoor pillows to its growing line.

Because of the U.S. housing market slump, many industry players are taking a new look at the contract channel. As you can see from this month's cover image, Treasure Garden has entered the category in a big way and President/CEO Oliver Ma told me he expects contract to be very strong.

Strength, function and style are challenges his companies have overcome in supplying shade solutions for retailers in North America and Europe for more than 25 years. His products now also are sold in South Africa, Brazil and Turkey. While Ma and his staff have worked to help their retail partners, they also formed alliances with umbrella manufacturers around the globe.

Earlier this year, Ma joined forces with New Zealand-based Shademaker. A couple of years ago, he partnered with Glatz, a Switzerland-based manufacturer of shade products with high-end architectural style. This new form of cooperation combines famous brand names and strong sales channels while adding Ma's strong support of manufacturing facilities in China. It creates more business opportunities for all parties to expand further to the global markets.

Ma and his Activa team have been working with the Chinese government to establish standards for China's shade market. The China Sun Shade Association urged Ma to join at a higher level in order to guide and lead the domestic shade market and expand further to the global market with his existing sale channels and customer base. As co-chairman and consultant to China's newly established Energy Saving Committee, Ma will meet this month in Beijing with 50 leaders from 30 Chinese provinces. Their goal is to save 20% of the country's energy use.

With winter upon us in the United States, let's seize the opportunities to do things differently in 2010.

Feedback? Send your comments to:
Cinde W. Ingram, Casual Living Editor-In-Chief
7025 Albert Pick Rd., Suite 200, Greensboro, N.C. 27409
336-605-1122
336-605-1158
cwingram@reedbusiness.com

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