• Waynette Goodson

Keeping It Simple

From Family-owned Furniture Store To Software Company

My Father, Michael Setzer, Started Our Family Business, Porches & Yards, In 1996 Selling Porch Rockers Out Of His Sunroom. He Would Showcase Them Wherever He Could. For Example, He Put Them On Display At A Small Country Store In Statesville, North Carolina. He Would Deliver What He Sold.

During his pursuit to open an outdoor living store, David Mowery gave him the opportunity to sell the Lane Venture line. Mowery was the Lane Venture sales representative for North Carolina at the time. That was the pivotal point, when the store transformed into a beautiful showroom. It was even selected as one of Southern Living’s “Favorite Shops of the South.”

At its peak, my father’s company was doing well. I believe we may have been Bryan Echols’ No. 1 account for a short period. (Echols was the ICFA 2016 Sales Representative of the Year.) Then things took a turn in 2005 when my father died from an aneurism. I took over the family business, and at 27 years old, I was coping with his loss and trying to figure out what I was going to do with the retail store.

Gregg and Monica Setzer grow nostalgic when they talk key
Porches Their former store, Porches & Yards, started by his father, Michael, who passed away in 2005.

Peers in the casual furniture community were compassionate about what I was going through. Competitors, sales reps and vendors reached out to me because they cared. That’s when I decided to keep moving forward with the business.

However, sales were not as strong as they had been for several reasons. I was coping with my father’s death. In addition, you may recall that the economy took a hit around that time. From 2006 to 2014, sales were stable but not prosperous. That’s OK because I had the rare opportunity to run a business that allowed me to work with such a great and fun industry.

Before he passed, my father spent invaluable time with me. My favorite part was making deliveries with him. We had a good time doing that—although sometimes he terrified me. He would drink his sweet tea, make a phone call, and steer our straight-drive delivery truck, all at the same time!

A Fresh Start

In 2014, my wife Monica and I had an opportunity to close the business, and we took it. Sales were down. Our town started a road construction project that caused six months of major traffic congestion. This hurt the area’s businesses, and several didn’t survive the construction. We were impacted as well, but the disruption allowed us to make the needed change. We took the opportunity to close the store after 18 years. It was a difficult decision, but it was the right one.

Since then, my wife has become a stay-at-home parent for our two children, Colton and Addison, now 4 years old and 15 months old, respectively. I entered a new career as a software developer with a focus on mobile and web applications. I’ve worked in the enterprise sector for clients including Food Lion, as well as clients in the banking and retail industry. I’ve even built e-commerce software for major retailers.

arrr Porches
At its height, Porches & Yards in Statesville, N.C., was selected as one of Southern Living’s “Favorite Shops of the South.”

In addition to working at Porches & Yards all those years, I had spent time learning web technologies. I managed our store’s website and continually made it more advanced and robust.

One of our in-house software applications was specifically built to make quoting furniture fast and easy. We discovered it was time-consuming, error prone and tedious to write up custom quotes. Most importantly, it was frustrating to make customers wait for a quote. We put a great deal of effort in our price lists to make them easier to manage.

That’s when we created a web application allowing us to streamline all the vendor information into a single database. This was a perplexing puzzle to solve, as it was di cult to find the commonality between all vendors.

Over the past 15 months, I rebuilt this application from the ground up, and I’ve started my new venture, Rustgate, which went live at the beginning of the year. I’m excited to embark on a new journey.

For furniture retailers and interior designers, we build tools to make client engagements run smoothly. We’re also researching how to engage sales reps as intermediaries in the work ow. It will be an interesting couple of years ahead as we have a lot of ideas.

The reason I rebuilt the application and started our company is because I realize how much I miss the casual community. That’s when I decided to get back into the industry.

What Is Rustgate?

Our customers fall into three main categories: interior designers, independent stores, and small, multi-store retailers. The key benefits of our service are cost, simplicity and efficiency.

A er nearly two decades as an independent retailer, I understand that it’s difficult to make investments in technology. Small stores may be operating on lower margins to compete against Internet retailers offering the same products.

Retailers focus on other aspects of the business such as advertising, purchasing and payroll. Technology investments are a low priority.

We were in this situation as well, and that’s why we’ve designed our so ware in the cloud. We can offer retailers the tools to run their business with minimal cost.

A key feature is that all your price lists can be combined into a single, easy-to-use application that can be used on any device. This includes your smart phone, tablets and computers. You can add, update and remove products for every manufacturer as needed.

Rustgate.com focuses on managing custom quotes for designers, independent retailers, and small, multistore chains. Rustgate

Many retailers will calculate pricing off MSRP for each customer as they’re working with the customer. You can eliminate this step by using our tool. The key benefits are handling more volume, eliminating error-prone calculations, and reducing missed opportunities. You can potentially operate more efficiently with Rustgate’s quoting capabilities.

Since we’re in early release, I’m offering the service for free. The current state of the application contains the important features that will always be complimentary for those who sign up in 2017.

Next year, we will put reasonable limits on the free plan. Premium features that will be added over the next year will be available in paid plans. This is a common business model for cloud services.

Most of all, I’m very excited that the first release is now live. This is a great place to be because now I can focus on frequent iterative updates. I’m also going to concentrate on enhancing the User Interface (UI) and making sure the application is as easy as possible.

This is the point where I can add new features with short development cycles, which is so much harder to develop. I’m also adding new capabilities that I always wanted at our store.

I’ve had some ideas rolling around in my head for years, and now I’m bringing those ideas to life. I am now more con dent that keeping it simple is the key to success. rustgate.com

Waynette GoodsonWaynette Goodson | Editor in Chief
wgoodson@casualliving.com

Waynette Goodson is the editor in chief of Casual Living. Previously, she served as the managing editor of Four Seasons magazine, the luxury publication in Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts worldwide. With more than 20 years experience in the publishing industry, Waynette has held editor's positions at Delta Sky, U.S. Airways and Santa Barbara magazines. Her bylines have appeared everywhere from Georgia Magazine to Rolling Stone. She's also the fashion columnist for Greenboro, N.C.'s O'Henry magazine, and enjoys a healthy amount of retail therapy. When she’s not pushing a pen, she’s usually in the gym working on her triceps. Contact Waynette at wgoodson@casualliving.com.

 

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