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Palliser opens Mexico factory

25 September 2017
Furniture, Manufacturing

WINNIPEG – Palliser Furniture has cut the ribbon to kick-off production at its fourth production facility in Mexico to support growth in their mid-range to high-end Encore home theatre seating line as well as their entry level stationary upholstery line, which is made under the North American Furniture Company label.

The new 65,000 square foot facility will be located in Matamoros, Coahuila, Mexico, adjacent to their existing cut and sew operation and will employ up to 180 people in jobs ranging from operators and technicians to engineers and management. At the opening, the plant had a staff of 36 and will be growing to 200 as the company ramps up production – which will be based on sales demand.

When fully operational, it will bring Palliser’s total North American workforce to over 1,900.

Palliser Furniture’s senior leadership is seen cutting the ribbon to open the company’s 65,000 square foot factory in Matamoros, Mexico, including company chairman Art DeFehr (second from right).“We are so proud of this new facility and of the growth that we’ve been able to realize over the past few years,” Cary Benson, Palliser’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “This is our fifth manufacturing facility in North America, allowing us to service our customers even more efficiently.”

Palliser is implementing new manufacturing methodologies in this facility, which was built to service the company’s U.S. based customers. It will use one-piece continuous flow production conveyor to achieve higher efficiencies and more strenuous quality control. Energy efficiency was a key priority of the design, which uses low-demand kilowatt equipment and LED illumination.

The company also noted the facility – which is fully operational but not currently running at full speed – will have the capacity to produce more than 60,000 units a year.

Palliser’s Canadian retail network is serviced from its factory here in Winnipeg where it was founded some 70 years ago.

Benson noted Palliser decided to open the facility following seven consistent years of growth. “Palliser is not only growing in Canada, but experiencing outstanding unprecedented category growth in theatre seating as well as making efforts to increase brand awareness and distribution across North America,” he said.

In all, Palliser has five manufacturing facilities. One is here in Winnipeg with two located in Saltillo, and two in Matamoros – both found in the state of Coahuila, Mexico.

Related Story: Palliser acquires Casana
Related Story: Palliser promotes Wiltshire

Mega convention begins Sunday

25 September 2017
Events, Retail

VANCOUVER – Members of Mega Group and its BrandSource Canada banner will gather at the Fairmont Hotel here Sunday for two days of networking and learning as their annual convention gets under way.

According to Michael Vancura, the group’s executive vice president of retail, Mega members have been having a good 2017 with sales in all three major categories – furniture, mattresses and major appliances – growing at a brisk clip and certainly ahead of the industry average for the year-to-date.

Erik Qualman, the author of Socialnomics, will be the keynote speaker at this weekend’s Mega Group convention in Vancouver. This year’s convention is once again devoted to all things digital – particularly marketing. The keynote speaker is Erik Qualman, the author of Socialnomics, which examined how social media transformed the way people live and how they do business. “He’s the Dale Carnegie of digital marketing,” Vancura says.

He is also the author of four other books, including What Happens in Las Vegas stays on YouTube. He has been featured on 60 Minutes and has worked with a number of high profile corporations such as Starbucks, Raytheon, Chase, Sony, and Disney. He is also a visiting professor at both Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Also on tap will be Cole Sianko, digital marketing manager for Ashley Furniture. He will lead a workshop entitled Let’s Get Digital, which is designed to broaden the retailer’s understanding of how the web works and how she can get the most results for the dollar spent. “This is going to be a great session,” Vancura says, “He understands what they need to be doing and he’s going to share things the members can be doing when they go back to their store.”

Senior marketing executives from the California-based Associated Volume Buyers (AVB), the parent of the U.S. branch of BrandSource, are also expected to attend the convention with their list of 60 digital marketing strategies retailers can use.

For the first time, NPD, the global market research group, will be at the Mega convention discussing the state of the major appliance business in Canada.

Perhaps the most immediate session will be led by Dan Weare, who recently retired as a senior merchandising manager for Mega. Weare will discuss “the Sears opportunity” and what it means to the independent furniture, mattress and major retailer. He is well positioned to offer these insights as he spent almost two decades at Sears Canada, much of it in the big ticket home business. He was also instrumental in their acquisition of what is now Cantrex Nationwide.

Vancura said he expects about 250 people from across the industry to attend the convention, including at least 80 retail members. The event will include the tradition product ‘Stampede’ and buy fair as well as this year’s vendor awards presentation.

“This is going to be a great place for our members and the vendors to connect. It’s also going to be filled with great content and be very educational,” Vancura said.

While details were not revealed, next year’s convention will be held in conjunction with the annual general meeting. Mega decided to split the convention and the AGM when what is now called the Canadian Furniture Show was moved from January to June as that meeting usually held at about that time. For the last two years, the AGM was held at CFS. The group is expected to at least announce the dates of the 2018 events sometime during the weekend.

Meet Matthew Fecho

Matthew Fecho, Canada’s first Retail Sales Professional Award winner, is seen here in his store – part of the regional Mattress Mattress chain – in Airdrie, Alberta.
25 September 2017
Mattresses, People, Retail

AIRDRIE, Alberta – It’s hard out there for a retail salesperson – especially for one working in the complex, challenging and ever-changing furniture and mattress industry.

For that reason, it’s exciting when a young salesperson – one who is just 28 years old, to be exact – walks away with not just a 2017 Retail Sales Professional Award (RSPA) for Western Canada, but also named as the first Canada’s National Retail Sales Professional.

Matthew Fecho, a sales manager with Forty Winks Inc. (part of the Mattress Mattress, the 22-unit mattress specialist with stores throughout Alberta and British Columbia), was one of four recipients of the first annual RSPAs, a program sponsored by Zucora, the added-value provider based in London, Ontario. The program is also supported by other industry insiders, including Home Goods Online; the Canadian Home Furnishings Alliance (CHFA), the Toronto-based industry association; and, the Canadian Furniture Show (CFS), this country’s only national trade event for furniture and furnishings.

The RSPA program was designed to recognise the outstanding achievements and accomplishments of experienced retail sales professionals working on furniture, mattress and major appliance floors across the country who also are seen as leaders by their peers and employers when it comes to delivering exceptional customer sales and service.

Since the award isn’t an easy one to win – sales people with three or more years of experience working on retail sales floor are nominated by their managers or peers – locking one down is impressive, especially when a nominee goes from being shy and somewhat introverted university student to an enthusiastic and engaging people person.

“It was humbling to know there was that chance and to be recognised by the company. It was definitely kind of exciting to know they wanted to recognise me,” Matthew Fecho, who was happily surprised by the win, said in an interview. “It was pretty exciting. Getting phone call from Zucora to let me know that I was the Western Canadian recipient was exciting to know.”

After Fecho heard the good news, he knew a few housekeeping arrangements were in order, as he had to travel out of province to accept the honour. The recipients were feted at the recent Canadian Home Furnishings Awards gala held just prior to the opening of the 2017 edition of CFS.

“I had to change my schedule and get people in place to work for me,” he says. “I wondered ‘how am I going to get there?’ but it’s a once in a lifetime. My first phone call was to my mom and dad and my wife to let them know. They were all really excited, my wife especially.”

Like many people in the furniture industry, Fecho works with family and was actually nominated by his mother, Lori Fecho, who is also vice president of Mattress Mattress. But although he was nominated by a close family member, parental love wasn’t the driving force behind the well-deserved nod.

Fecho is an accomplished salesman, having achieved his personal sales targets for each of the past 39 consecutive months. He was also a top hourly performer for the entire group of Mattress Mattress stores in 2016.

Fecho also opened the regional chain’s location in Airdrie, Alberta three years ago and has been mentoring its four person team ever since. Now, his store has been ranked second in the chain for the past two years.

Click here to read the rest of Ashley’s profile of Matthew Fecho, the first national Retail Sales Professional Award winner…

Travels in Portugal

25 September 2017
Furniture, Manufacturing

Portugal is perhaps most famous for its port, a fortified wine most often used as a digestive – that is, to settle the stomach after a good meal. Its creation and sale is the result of one of the earliest trade agreements ever made. In fact, that trade relationship continues to flourish today, some six centuries after it was first signed by this country on the west coast of the Iberian Peninsula and what is today Great Britain.  Indeed, the Portuguese export port to everywhere in the world.

After that, Portugal is known for its beautiful cheeses and other truly delicious foodstuffs of various kinds ranging from cod to olive oil. A member of the European Union, Portugal has been active promoting and selling its products across the breadth and width of the world’s largest free trade zone and with the prospect of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada becoming law in September, it is setting its sight on entering the market here. And, while this may come as a surprise to many, one of the products they want to sell here is furniture, both case goods and upholstery.

The HGO panel is seen here in the warehouse of AM Classics. From left to right are: Isabel Quintas; Pat Kelly; John Power; Gina Delicata; Michael Knell; Raul Travado; and, Cristina Cunha. Quintas and Cunha are staff members of the home furnishings division of the Portugal Trade & Investment Agency and based in Porto. Travado is director of the agency’s Toronto office. For one week, the author and three well-known Canadian industry members with backgrounds in furniture retailing, manufacturing and distribution toured the northern region of Portugal as guests of the Toronto-based Portugal Global Trade & Investment Agency (AICEP, for short) visiting 25 or so local furniture makers. An agency of the Portuguese government, AICEP is charged with building economic relationships between their country and ours.

Accompanying the author were: Gina Delicata, vice president of marketing and merchandising for Tepperman’s – a family-owned and operated furniture, mattress, appliance and electronics retailer with five stores throughout southwestern Ontario; Pat Kelly, assistance vice president/home furnishings for Cantrex Nationwide Group (CNW), the buying and marketing group based in Montreal; and, John Power, general manager/sales and strategic development for Mega Group, the co-operatively owned buying group headquartered in Saskatoon. These three professionals have literally decades of experience in Canada’s furniture industry at both the retail and the manufacturing/distribution levels. They made a dynamic, thorough and fair-minded reviewing panel.

Most of us who have spent most of our adult lives in this industry have a tendency to forget, that in addition to everything else it is, furniture is also a cultural product. It is very much a reflection of the society and the people who make it. Portugal’s furniture industry is small but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in quality – in both construction and design, which for the export market is decidedly contemporary, occasionally bordering on the avant garde. Most of the firms visited were not lacking for experience as exporters. Many of them bragged about delivering product across Europe, most notably Italy, England, Denmark and Russia.

Some have even done some business in the United States.

Most are also really excited about CETA and, while they confess to knowing only a little about Canada, they are enthused about the possibilities it offers both their individual companies and their industry.

Click here to read Michael’s complete report on the group’s Travels in Portugal…


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