Feizy Rugs surviving, thriving after 40 years
Furniture Today Staff -- Casual Living, January 31, 2013
LAS VEGAS - According to the Small Business Administration, upwards of 56% of businesses fail at the five-year mark. In stark contrast, Dallas-based Feizy Rugs is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.
To commemorate the anniversary, Furniture/Today Editor-in-Chief Ray Allegrezza talked with Leah Feizy about the company's successful tenure in the home furnishings sector. She is Feizy's executive vice president and is the daughter of company founder John Feizy, who remains its president and CEO.
Furniture/Today: Why and how did Feizy launch 40 years ago?
John Feizy started Feizy Rugs 40 years ago and remains its president and CEO. His daughter Leah Feizy is the company’s executive vice president.
Leah Feizy: Feizy Rugs started in 1973 as a small retail store in a suburb of Dallas and was born out of John Feizy's desire to make fine, hand-knotted pieces more accessible to all. A loyal clientele of designers led him to lease a space in the Dallas World Trade Center about a year later to cater more specifically to the needs of the trade.
F/T: What was the market like when the company was launched?
LF: There were very few rug shops and there were no programmed hand-made goods at that time. By that, I mean that the rug that the customer saw in the shop was the rug that was available. The customer could not ask for that rug in a custom color or custom size. We worked mainly with designers and consumers that had educated themselves about these fine works of art.
Back then, there was no Internet so it was more difficult to discover how truly special and unique the rugs we carried were. Our dad, John, took great joy in really educating the consumers about these marvelous pieces of art and in hand-selecting them on buying trips.
F/T: How has the market changed in the 40 years Feizy Rugs has been in business? Also, tell me about the most significant changes - and how you managed them.
LF: Perhaps the most significant change has been the ability to customize designs. It certainly allowed us to expand very rapidly and was a great advantage.
Lately, the increased demand for more fashion and value-oriented rugs has also changed the face of the market. It's becoming more difficult to source fine hand-knotted pieces. We are lucky to have a wide range of constructions and qualities in our running line and the ability to offer a variety of products because we have such a strong network overseas in areas including Turkey, Pakistan, India and China
F/T: What are some of the innovations and or milestones your company has achieved since it launched?
LF: Our programmed lines really took off with the Eden Collection of petit point hooked rugs in the late 1980s. With the huge success of that collection, many more soon followed.
The opening of our 12-loom factory in Turkey in 2000 allowed us to explore the possibilities of different power loomed textures and fiber combinations. One of the biggest successes we have had (and continue to enjoy) is with the Saphir Collections. We pioneered this construction and despite the fact that there are many imitations, there are very few companies that have been as successful as Feizy has with this type of rug.
Our growth and expansion nationally and internationally, the fact that we are the first area rug manufacturer to have been inducted into the ARTS Awards Hall of Fame, and the use of Feizy Rugs in the Architectural Digest Academy Awards Greenroom over the last two years have been exciting as well. And reaching 40 years is a definite milestone!
F/T: Of those innovations, what do you see as the most significant ones - and how have they made Feizy a better company?
LF: Our decision to delve into the world of programmed, custom designs was certainly not insignificant and opening our own factory in Turkey has also really given us an edge when it comes to quality control and design innovation. The awards we have won over the years also continue to drive us to achieve bigger and better things.
F/T: What are some of the core aspects of Feizy that have not changed in 40 years?
LF: It is still a family-owned and family-run company, and when we bring in team members the goal is really to make them family. We have some team members that have been here since the '70s. Everyone's opinion is respected and valued here, and you're just as likely to see a member of Customer Service in a line review as you are a sales executive or a showroom manager. Our company also never sacrifices quality to create a trendy product. We want our rugs to be beautiful but they also have to be worthy of carrying the Feizy name. The adaptability and versatility of our company and our people are also key.
F/T: What has changed at Feizy since it launched and how has that impacted the company?
LF: We have certainly grown by leaps and bounds both in size and in the range of product we carry, and the technology available is of course a major difference not only for our company, but for the entire industry. Communications as a whole have improved vastly and business is easier and more efficient all the way around.
Another significant change is the wider demand for constructions other than hand-knotted. For many years, Oriental rugs were accessible only to more affluent consumers. Tufted, hooked, printed and power loomed options have provided us with cost-effective alternatives to the traditional hand-knotted rug, which allows everyone in the industry to offer trendier products. This has been great for us because where we once were only able to serve a very small portion of the market; we are now able to create rugs that appeal to various segments.
F/T: Can you give me a few specifics regarding the role technology has played in terms of your product offerings?
LF: Technology has afforded us so many advantages. We are able to dream up a new palette, construction or design and we can get feedback from overseas within hours with regard to feasibility, challenges, etc. Our B2B site allows clients to get their orders into the system without having to wait for a call or visit from their rep.
We're also able to track our strongest sellers and determine which colors, constructions and styles do best according to client type and geographic location. In 1973 when we first started, whoever dreamed we'd have that information so easily accessible? Not to mention that we can turn around a completely custom design created by the client by our online design studio in just a few months!
F/T: Which channels are most significant to Feizy?
LF: All channels are important to us, which is why we've been able to adapt and grow where others have been unable. We started as a small retail storefront and once we decided to become trade-only, we developed a loyal clientele of designers that we still enjoy today.
A significant portion of our business is also represented by the small furniture stores as well as furniture chains. Of course, we also work with larger key accounts and discounters, often creating products tailored to their specific needs. The marketplace now more than ever demands adaptability and versatility, characteristics that are at our company's core.
F/T: Which channel or channels are you seeking to become more important to?
LF: We always look to increase our business in all areas. We are looking to our sales reps this year to grow the business in the furniture store and mid-priced specialty store channels.
We are also focused on growing the gift/home accent specialty store business and are working on expanding our flooring store presence.
F/T: What do you see as Feizy's competitive advantages
- and how to you maximize them?
LF: Our reputation and our tenure are definitely important advantages that really give us an edge. Our customers deserve so many thanks for giving us the gift of longevity, as do our dedicated team members. These factors add so much to the initial trust factor placed in us by new clients and I think it's a big part of why we continue to grow.
We also have in-house Design, IT, Marketing and Customer Service teams that are second to none. Our sales reps are among the most well-educated in the field and they have a passion for passing that knowledge on. Having over 180,000 square feet of warehouse space located at our Dallas headquarters is also a definite advantage. With all of these resources under our control, we can be more responsive to the needs of our clients and our reps.
F/T: What portions of your business are you working to improve?
LF: We work every day to improve in every area. I think that's why we've been able to be successful and continue to grow. The areas that we tend to need to update the fastest are technology-related. We recently introduced iFeizy, our iPad application, and have also completely redesigned our website.
F/T: Are traditional furniture retailers maximizing their opportunities from rugs? If not, what can they do to make this a more profitable portion of their business?
LF: Not all retailers are maximizing opportunities for rug sales. We have several programs available that allow retailers to make a minimal investment to offer their clients many more possibilities than previously possible with traditional swing-arm racks or just by placing rugs in vignettes.
Our Options Custom Program allows for the design of completely custom rugs and our Designer Series program has been a favorite among retailers that want to showcase a maximum number of pieces in a small amount of space. The 18-by-18-inch samples are easy to handle and take onsite if necessary and also allow a retailer that might have only been able to offer 20 rugs before to offer many times that now.
We also feel that training is another important component for the retailer's staff and even the end consumer. Education is the key to confidence in both selling and buying in so many cases! Feizy offers all of these services and we have seen a great increase in the number of our customers taking advantage of them with great success.
F/T: What is Feizy doing to help them succeed selling rugs?
LF: We always strive to have the best dealer programs and sales tools available and encourage our clients to work with our sales and marketing teams to develop tools that might be specifically targeted to their customers.
We also provide in-store training for our customers' sales teams and love to conduct workshops for the public to support the efforts of our retailers.
F/T: How are you using social media? How is it working for you?
LF: We are using social media in a variety of ways. It's a great tool to build brand awareness but it's also a good way to get information out quickly.
This year, we are running incentives geared specifically toward our trade clients that follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. As we speak, we are nearing the end of the first promotion but all indicators are good that this has definitely increased business.
As we work to launch the newest collaboration between Poetic Wanderlust by Tracy Porter and Feizy Rugs, we've enjoyed hosting a guest Pinboard created by Tracy Porter. It's been a fantastic way to collaborate with other designers and entities with whom we work. In many cases, we are able to boost the numbers of both our followers and their followers.
Because our efforts are less than a year old, I think it's hard to get a handle on how sales have been impacted by our use of social media but it has certainly allowed us to become more interactive and engaged with our clients, which is a definite plus.