In the past 30 or more years, many home furnishing stores have not survived the competitive market, but RC Willey - a family owned business - remains successful because family members do not live the high life, the company's chief executive officer says.
"One reason why we are successful is because we have socked our money back into business capital," said William Child. "We have survived a lot of competition."Speaking at a Brigham Young University executive lecture, Child said RC Willey will open a store in Utah Valley within the next two years to accommodate a growing market.
The company hit $75 million in gross sales this year. In 1954 when Child took over his father-in-law's (R.C. Willey) business, gross sales were at $250,000.
"Ever since then we have been building a little at a time," he said. "It was a comfortable business at first, but now it has changed drastically with industry challenges."
Speaking on "Home Furnishings: An Exciting and Changing Industry," Child said the key to success is building integrity with the customer and doing everything the customer expects.
RC Willey's first store, with a 600-square-foot display area, was built next to his home in Syracuse. Now, 34 years later, the company has three stores with 250,000 square feet of display floor along the Wasatch Front. On Nov. 18, the company opened its first clearance center in West Valley City.
Child said he remembers the day when orders were taken and then the goods produced. That system wouldn't work in today's market because consumers and "want it and want it now."
There has also been a lot of consolidation in manufacturing since that time, he said. In 1954, for example, there were 40,000 furniture dealers, and today there are less than 20,000.
About 20 percent of home furnishings used to be sold at department stores, but most do not carry furniture anymore.
"A lot of home furnishing stores have gone out of business in the area, so where is the competition?" he asked. "There are more people and more homes, but the competition is coming from a different type of furniture."
He said RC Willey competes with mail orders or home improvement centers that sell ready-to-assemble furniture.
"I don't think it's the same quality, but it is still furniture and they are selling it," Child said.
Most stores today are specialty stores dealing in only appliances or electronics, but RC Willey carries both home furnishings and appliances.
Child said the company does $30 million of sales in electronics and appliances a year, which is a small amount in the national sales scene, but being tied with the "big guys" has its advantages in bringing quality goods at low prices.
Another success factor comes from having a volume operation with tight gross profit margins, he said.