Design Business an Adventure in Marketing

by WOHe

Design Business an Adventure in
Marketing

By Denise D. Vermeulen


CORAL SPRINGS, FLWho would have guessed that an unemployed
salesman, armed with only a credit card, would eventually become a
musketeer? No wait, that’s “marketeer;” but, the road to success
was, nevertheless, unpredictable, and the story perhaps no less
astonishing than the tale of the swashbuckling trio.

The story of Greg Jones, the self-described “marketeer” and
president/owner of Kitchen Art, begins in 1989 as he opens a small
business, working out of his bedroom for the first five years. “I
started my business on a credit card,” explains Jones. Laid off
from his job as national sales manager for an international
furniture company, Jones sums up his position at the time. “I was
broke,” he says frankly.

Jones, however, was determined, and he had a darn good idea.
With the help of his wife, Gail, he began to break into the kitchen
design field, adding a twist that would prove to be a marketing
coup.

Recognizing the tremendous growth in Florida’s upscale housing
market, Jones envisioned partnerships with builders that would make
money for everyone. He tells potential partners that he is “a
marketeer, interested in maximizing your bottom line, too.” The
developments are typically large, often building more than 1,000
homes that sell for between $300,000 and $600,000. 

At first, Jones only sold cabinets, providing packages that
developers could offer to their customers as upgrades. The idea
eventually expanded and now includes the entire kitchen design.
“Most people upgrade,” observes Jones, adding that there is an
85-90% success rate on getting clients to reach deeper into their
pockets.

With the builder’s plan in mind, Kitchen Art develops its own
design book to be used in a housing development. The home buyer
meets with the builder, reviews the design possibilities and their
costs, and makes a decision. “We don’t move walls,” explains Jones.
The designs are set and the numerous packages offered are “good,
better, best,” and sometimes beyond. 

Maximizing time
Jones and his staff never meet with the home buyer because it takes
too much time. He adds, “Individual contact weighs us down,”
preventing them from achieving their target volume. Kitchen Art
instead focuses on the builders and shaping buying relationships
with manufacturers.

The design team at Kitchen Art does the creative work up front.
Jones explains that the company’s marketplace is neither high-tech
nor contemporary. Florida buyer tastes are inspired by
Old-World-style periods. Jones notes that the creation of expert
designs meets the first of his three goals, goals that are the
foundation of his business philosophy. Providing a quality product
and the best possible service round out Jones’ philosophy, which he
says he’s lived by since opening the business.

The showroom displays are not open to the general public, but
are instead used as sales tools when meeting with builders. Jones
does not advertise, list in the Yellow Pages, offer seminars or
send out news releases. In fact, old-fashioned networking,
word-of-mouth and sales calls are the only tools he has relied on
to build his thriving business. 

And, these tactics have served him well, with the company doing
about 60 kitchens a week. He also has three offices in Florida, and
has a sprawling network of contacts from Coral Springs to Orlando
to Naples. 
Jones’ bottom line has steadily increased, doubling in the last
three years. Last year, Kitchen Art made about $24 million out of
the Coral Springs office alone. When adding in the other two
locations, where Jones now has two partners, Kitchen Art grossed
over $30 million.

Partnering up
The partnerships which Jones has built his business on go beyond
the developers. He’s committed to his staff of 35, claiming to have
had little turnover. He is determined to provide his sales staff
with ample opportunity. Jones notes that his salesmen generally
earn over $100,000 annually, and he never back charges them.

He has also found it advantageous to team up with large
manufacturers and distributors. 

One example is his partnership with Amerock. Jones emphasizes
his belief that Amerock is a great supplier of hardware, with a
quick response, and a wide variety of products and guarantees. The
lifetime guarantee on Amerock’s products has particularly helpful
in the humid, salty Florida climate that is tough on metal
finishes. Jones’ extensive business makes his partnerships with
such manufacturers mutually beneficial.

One current challenge facing Kitchen Art is the fact that large
builders are also trying to partner with manufacturers. Jones says
this could squeeze him out and he is, of course, fighting it every
step of the way. He’s continuing to pursue relationships with
manufacturers that will maximize profits and his company’s ability
to deliver.

True to his “marketeering” approach to business, Jones says, “We
don’t quibble over a little money.” He adds, “We finish a job, no
matter what!” That’s an attitude the original Musketeers would
support. “All for one and one for all!”

Eagle Fabrication 

LOCATION: Coral Springs, Florida, with
additional offices 
in Orlando and Naples
PRINCIPALS: Greg Jones, President & Owner;
Gail Jones, Service Manager
SHOWROOMS: Two: one is 900-sq.-ft. and the other
is 700-sq.-ft. 
HOURS OF OPERATION: Open by appointment
only.
EMPLOYEES: 35
MAJOR PRODUCT LINES: Amerock, Ward’s, Kitchen
Craft, Kraftmaid, Dynasty, Omega, Grabill, Bentwood, Merit
DESIGN SOFTWARE: 20-20
SPECIALTIES: Marketing kitchen design upgrade
packages to upscale builders and their clients.
BUSINESS PHILOSOPHY: “To never stray from the
three original ideas that were used to start the business: expert
design, quality cabinets and the best service.”

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