ONTARIO, CA – The International Casual Furnishings Association (ICFA) honored top retailers, manufacturers, representatives and designers last week at a gala awards celebration during the International Casual Furniture and Accessories (ICFA) Market in Chicago.
During the celebration, OW Lee earned its third consecutive award in the coveted “manufacturer of the year” category. According to Terri Rogers, the remarkable achievement was a team effort that involved hard work, honesty, and a commitment to stylish and comfortable products.
Patio & Hearth Products Report chatted with Rogers about the award, the company philosophy, and the future.
P&HPR: What was your reaction when you learned you had once again won manufacturer of the year?
Terri Rogers, president, OW Lee, Ontario, Calif: I felt very very honored and excited, and was even a little shocked at our threepeat. I could not believe we won again. I also felt very proud of every employee who truly earned this award, and grateful to the industry.
P&HPR: What factors appealed to the judges the most?
Rogers: I think people recognize OW Lee as an honest, hardworking company. We are committed to the industry for the long term, and work hard to provide stylish and comfortable products that are a real value to the dealer. There are no smoke screens with OW Lee, and I think our customers really appreciate that.
P&HPR: What do you think you could do better as a manufacturer?
Rogers: We are very far from perfect! I feel like there is always room for improvement in all aspects of the company. I would love to figure out how to reduce lead times and offer more to our customer in terms of marketing support to name a few.
P&HPR: What new products/initiatives are you planning for the future?
Rogers: We started looking at new product for the 2015-2016 season the week after we got back from premarket, which is about 3 to 4 months earlier than normal for us. I feel so blessed to have my son Paul to take charge on the product design side of the company; he really does an outstanding job.
A few things on the drawing board for next year are lower-to-the-ground fire pits, an abundance of interesting design ideas for new collections that range from industrial-contemporary to very classic traditional, expanding our popular porcelain tile tops, and more. I am already excited for 2015-2016!
P&HPR: What is the most challenging aspect of running a successful manufacturing enterprise?
Rogers: It is VERY challenging to stay competitive manufacturing in the United States, and especially in California. I feel like because of this we have less to give to the dealer in terms of sales and marketing support. That is one reason this award means so much to us, because it is confirmation that the dealer understands our business model of focusing on the product first and foremost. As for the biggest headache? That would be freight, hands down.