Culp Inc. Announces Passing Of An Industry Legend

Posted 7 CommentsPosted in Uncategorized

Robert G. Culp, III, the founder and Chairman of Culp, Inc. died on December 8th due to complications related to leukemia. Back in 1972 Rob joined his father in creating what is now one of the largest furniture and bedding textile companies in the world employing over 1,400 employees. His success in business is obvious but that’s only part of his story.

Rob was a proud graduate and supporter of the University of North Carolina. He was a member of the Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church, was a trustee of High Point University that is now building the Culp Planetarium, and was key in driving improvements to rebuild downtown among other projects in his community.

I was first introduced to Culp when I started working at Serta, Inc. and was buying tick for the Sam’s account over 22 years ago. Mike Cottonaro was my Culp representative and has since become a close friend. He introduced me to Rob at an industry event and I have to admit being a little nervous given all that I had heard about him. It took all of five minutes to understand that everything people had told me about this guy was spot on. I was lucky enough to spend time with Rob on several occasions over the years and I got to know him fairly well so I am confident in saying the following. He was a generous man that deflected every compliment I tried to give him, he believed in approaching business with integrity but with a very aggressive posture, and was willing to invest in his customers but asked to be treated fairly and if that wasn’t going to happen, he was happy to walk away.  Whenever I was with Rob he showed a genuine interest in me and my business, always asked about my family and was a great listener when it came to hearing the answers. Rob was a true leader in our industry that has earned “legendary status” in my book because he lived that kind of life. Have you ever met someone that just had this “thing” about them; call it a presence. He was that kind of person and I’m so glad I knew him.

Rob G. Culp, III

The good news in all of this is that Rob built an organization that will prosper well into the future. When I was first exposed to ticking suppliers, there were three big companies; Culp, Blumenthal, and Burlington. Culp saw the writing on the wall and made some very good strategic decisions that allowed them to survive and thrive in some very tough times and they outlasted their main competition. So what does the future look like? Frank Saxon has been the CEO of Culp since 2007 and is a great guy, and Rob’s son IV is now the Chief Operating Officer and President. IV has become a friend to me over the year’s and is without a doubt his father’s son. I’m grateful to know IV and to still be connected to Mike Cottanaro, Larry and Chadd Coltrain, Chuck Fowler, their awesome design team and many others. You know that you have built something special when you fill your company with the kind of people that will make it a huge success well after you’re gone.

My prayers go out to Susan and his family today as they grieve their loss, but I know there will be a lot of celebration around Rob’s life and his legacy.

Rob…thank you for always making me feel more important than I was, and for being the kind of person and businessman that I hope to be. You will be missed.

 

Are Relationships Costing You Money?

Posted 1 CommentPosted in culture, furniture, Leadership, Management, mattress industry, purpose

If your spine is out of alignment it could really screw things up. Your central nervous system may stop communicating information between your body and your brain which could lead to massive headaches, significant amounts of stress, problems with your digestive system and an overall deterioration of your health.

Now think about your business relationships. Are you aligned there?

  • Do your supplier’s actions actually support your business objectives?
  • Is their current path on a crash course with your path or are they running in parallel?
  • Will their current actions and stated future goals be good for your business or will they hurt you in the long term? Do their “stated goals” match up with their actions?
  • How much time do your suppliers spend asking YOU about what you’re trying to accomplish? If I were to call your top 3 “partners” could they speak clearly about your business goals and how their company was going to help you find success?
  • Straight up and down…what are their intentions and do they serve your interest at the same time?

If you are not doing business with the right people it’s costing you money whether you realize it or not. Keep pushing to find real partners that genuinely want you to be successful and demonstrate that in their actions every day. It’s what they do; not what they say. You’ve been around long enough to know when someone is kissing ass vs. being real and working FOR YOU. The ass kissers are manipulators just wanting to push their own agenda and are rarely if ever, acting in your best interest so beware. 

Funny thing but a bad business relationship is that they can also cause headaches, significant amounts of stress, problems with your digestive system and an overall deterioration of your health. Are you in need of an adjustment?

Bonus Question: Who was the best television character ass kisser of all time? The first correct answer gets a free Dos Marcos t-shirt so don’t get it wrong!

 

 

Who Are You?

Posted 1 CommentPosted in charity, culture, faith, fun, Leadership, mattress industry, mattresses, purpose, service

I was listening to a podcast recently and the host of the show, (sorry, I can’t remember which one it was), asked the audience to really think about who we are. I thought it was a pretty stupid question until I did it.

Who am I? First off I would say I’m broken.  I screw stuff up all the time, say the wrong thing, don’t say the right thing, and fall short of being who I really want to be on a daily basis. But I think I am not a lot different than most of you; our negative self-talk has a tendency to play a dominant role in our heads. After that was over, I got to the good stuff.

I’m a guy that puts my faith in God above all else. I love and cherish my wife and try to make her FEEL THAT every day. I look at my role as a father as one of the most important jobs I have.  I try hard to make sure they have a friend when they want one so we can have a blast together as we roll through life, but also to be a boot in their ass when they need it. Being a great son and brother is important to me so showing my family that they always have someone they can turn to is a big deal. Friendships mean a lot so when it comes to that I aspire to be the kind of friend I value most. Unselfish, supportive, honest, empathetic, genuine, and always willing to hug it out when the time comes.  When it comes to work I want to be successful but I also want to enjoy the ride at the same time. I love my career and don’t do any of it for the money. Never have, never will. I take writing this blog and doing the Dos Marcos podcast with my great friend Mark Kinsley seriously, and hope that we put content out there that connects with you, inspires you, and hopefully makes you laugh every now and then.

Finally, at the core of who I am there is a profound sense of gratitude. Not just for everything I mention above, but I’m grateful for the pain I have experienced in the last few years because I know that it shapes me. I’m grateful for some things taking longer than they should because it teaches me patience. For the charities that I’m involved with because they reveal a much more difficult side of life like when I spend time with people that are surviving pancreatic cancer, battling addiction or living on the streets without a place to sleep at night. Perspective is a good thing. I’m grateful for being grateful because there’s joy in that.

From my family to yours I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving and hope that you take some time to maybe even write something like this for yourselves because when you finish, you will feel what I am feeling right now.

“Remember, being grateful doesn’t mean you have it all, it simply means your thankful for all you have.” Unknown

Know that I’m grateful for you. Thanks for reading Q’s Views!

Leggett and Platt Shoots and Scores Big

Posted Leave a commentPosted in culture, Leadership, Management, mattress industry, product development, Retail

I don’t think the recent acquisition of Elite Comfort Solutions (ECS) by Leggett and Platt was your typical 3-pointer from outside the arc or even a walk-off Home Run in the bottom of the 9th. For me it feels a little more like a bicycle kick to the back corner of the net for the win. Why? (As you read on you should know that I was a Leggett and Platt employee for 9 years so there is probably some bias in my opinion here but that doesn’t make me wrong-it makes me informed. 🙂 )

  1. Leggett and Platt is one of the largest companies in our industry and is THE largest supplier if I’m not mistaken. We are seeing major growth in the e-commerce space and in beds made with foam cores so unless Leggett made a move, that part of the market was going to pass them by.
  2. L&P did the foam thing years ago and sold the business, so why are they getting back in? Because they won’t be selling commodities which bring commodity prices and commodity margins. They bought a company that has a significant amount of intellectual property that allows them to develop new and innovative products for their key customers that will be exclusive to them. Think about the spring and machinery side of what they do, it’s the same model. Not saying that they won’t sell the ham and egg products, but they have the ability to go upmarket with premium goods where they can make some money. That’s a big deal.
  3. I don’t know anything about the ECS guys but after listening to the L&P investor call on this acquisition, it’s clear that the management teams line up. Karl Glassman, the current CEO of Leggett and Platt and Perry Davis, their President of the Residental Segment, made it clear that there was a lot of respect for the team at ECS and did a great job of welcoming them to the L&P family. If you’ve been reading this blog for long you know how I feel about culture. If you merge two large companies together that don’t fit, it could destroy a lot of shareholder value. Never underestimate the importance of shared purpose and vision.
  4. How valuable is Leggett and Platt to their customers now? They have become a one-stop shop for bedding solutions. Think about it; they can offer foam, innerspring, hybrids, foam toppers, coil toppers, foam edges, coiled edges, box spring components, box springs in a box, adjustable bases, bed frames, beds that come in a box, adjustable bases that come in a box and the list goes on. I’ve been in many meetings at Leggett where we would bring in a customer to show them one thing but before that group left, you better believe we trotted out five other products for them to look at. I can’t tell you how many times we heard people say, “I didn’t know you made that!” I think those show and tell meetings just got longer.

Leggett is really good at buying companies and letting them run their business but I hope for their sake they don’t do that here. Sure, let the management team do their thing but if they’re smart they won’t leave it where it is, they will integrate it with the innerspring core/micro coil side of things and really figure out how to mash it together to make sure that in this case, 1+1=2 because it really should.

On a side note, CONGRATULATIONS to Mitch Dolloff the newly named Chief Operating Officer at Leggett and Platt. Mitch is a class guy, a strategic thinker, and one of the hardest working people at the company. Best of luck to Mitch, but I know he will be WAY better than the last guy they had in that spot. Sorry Karl, I couldn’t help myself. 🙂 YOU STILL DA MAN!!!!

 

Gone Fishing

Posted 7 CommentsPosted in advertising, creativity, e-commerce, Management, marketing, mattress industry, mattresses, Retail

Consider where the ad money is coming from in the mattress industry at the moment. No doubt, brick and mortar retailers are spending to bring people into their stores. Tempur-Pedic is banging their drum, although, considerably less than in previous years as I understand it. But outside of that, there is very little happening from the traditional manufacturers. Yes, they are doing some content marketing and investing in co-op as well as dabbling in some smaller campaigns perhaps, but nothing to really move the needle. (Warning: This last statement is totally irresponsible because it is not based on any hard data because I didn’t have access to those reports when writing this. The comment is based solely on my sense of things so if I have it wrong, send me a note and I will correct it! But I don’t think I do.)

So… as a brick and mortar retailer what sort of bait are you using to catch your fish. I don’t know a lot about fishing but I know enough to say that you do your research before hitting your spot and use the bait that’s getting the action. Don’t consider what worked last time you were there either because it’s constantly changing.

If it were me I would give some serious thought to bringing in some of the bed in a box guys to my retail floor, at least the ones that are spending the ad money. Off the top of my head Purple, Casper, Leesa, Saatva, and Nectar are getting it done with television and a strong approach to the internet with ad words, display and content marketing, so aren’t they the brands you should be advertising?  Makes sense to me but there are a few problems with this.

  1. Not many of them are making a push into brick and mortar so you won’t have access to them.
  2. Even if they were, I doubt they could compete with what you already have on your floor which is really odd given the fact that a lot of these guys started out saying that they were going to deliver much better values to the consumer. Uhhhhh, I don’t think so. (I have to exclude Purple from this however because they are not selling a foam bed like everyone else, they have intellectual property in their sleep tech, the beds are proven to perform in certain areas, and they feel very different from what’s in the market.)

What if you just brought these products on to your floors to give consumers a comparison to what you are carrying in your store and set up a tablet on a pedestal for them to use should they want to buy one. Don’t be foolish about it either, don’t attack the product just let the consumer see what it is, and actually give them a way to buy the bed so that you’re not breaking any laws with your comparison. If you really do offer value then you should be able to overcome the e-commerce brands that are out there AND you give your customer a way to see those products in person. “Want to buy a bed on the internet? Fine, come on down we have some of the major brands in our stores for you to try PLUS our very own brand that will blow you away!”  The Original Mattress Factory used to do a brilliant job of this and they killed the traditional brands as a result.

I like products and stores that approach the consumer with confidence. “Here it is. See for yourself. We will kick everybody’s butt because we are better and we will prove it. See for yourself!”

Caught any big ones lately? Maybe you need to stop fishing with hot dogs.