Design Firm Brings Modern Twist to American Market

Design Firm Brings Modern Twist to American Market

By John Filippelli

The design firm which also manufactures its own cabinetry line was first introduced to the U.S. market in 1999, but more recently, Stephenson-Stach decided the time was right to expand Rotpunkt's offerings and design expertise into the U.S. market.

This would not only gain greater exposure for both the firm's design skills and its own cabinet line, it also would allow her to better access her target clientele: high-end homeowners and builders of luxury spaces.

"Our [U.S.] headquarters are located just North of Naples, FL, which is one of the fastest-growing areas in the U.S. Naples and the Fort Myers area attract an affluent clientele and, as a result, the projects [we get] are usually much larger in volume and price," she explains.

Therefore, with a 3,000-sq.-ft. showroom space based here, a 3,500- sq-ft. showroom in Miami and another showroom planned for the Atlanta area by the end of this year, the U.S. division of the company is poised to showcase its talents and cabinetry line to a growing U.S. audience, she believes.

The firm carries a variety of product offerings, including the Rotpunkt cabinetry line; appliances from Thermador, Sub-Zero, Bosch, K├╝ppersbusch, Wolf, Best and Gaggenau; Franke sinks and faucets, and a variety of countertop materials, including granite, wood and concrete.

The company offers 10 full displays in its showrooms which vary from contemporary to traditional and include a large array of door styles, door colors, handles and countertop samples.

In keeping with the desire to offer a diverse array of choices to consumers, the Rotpunkt cabinet line features a variety of styles ranging from sleek European contemporary to "Old World" traditional styles, as well as traditional North American doors and thermofoil doors selections. She notes, "We offer more than 100 choices in door styles and colors."

She continues: "Our cabinetry also offers more than 20 inside carcass colors that can be matched to the outside of the cabinet as part of its standard program."

But, more importantly, helping the company stay competitive is its ability to also offer full design services, she believes.
"Rotpunkt is a full-service kitchen design studio that specializes in all areas of the house, such as kitchens, bathrooms, entertainment centers, closet systems and outdoor kitchens [among others], from conceptual design to installation," she describes.

The firm thrives on unusual designs and creative cabinet innovations; she cites one kitchen project where the company, in conjunction with a local interior design studio, created see-through cabinets that hang from a clasp on the window pane effectively letting the owner see clearly out to the home's outdoor courtyard.

Indeed, as Stephenson-Stach notes, her own greatest joy and the company's greatest success comes when a project calls for the firm's cabinet and design prowess to be combined in a special and unique way.

In the end, however, Stephenson-Stach believes that her firm's successful is due to its ability to be flexible in its philosophy and adapt to customer demand.

She explains: "We are really a modern kitchen company [at heart], but since we have arrived here in the U.S., we have found that most of the work is Mediterranean style and Moroccan style. Therefore, we have accommodated that market by coming out with some specific doors for this market, including traditional door panels, with hand-painted finishes and moldings.

"Our philosophy is to create highly functional and beautiful designs while providing a very high level of service," she adds.

"We show kitchens, bathrooms, offices and closet systems. [I believe] it helps prospective clients to visualize their own projects," she adds.

Universal language
Citing a growing demand for kitchen remodeling in the Miami and Southwest Florida area, she notes that the company moved to the U.S. in 1999 with Stephenson-Stach taking the reigns in America and company president, Horst Rabe, running the company's Buende, Germany headquarters.

Stephenson-Stach even jokes that when the company first moved to America, customers had to adjust to the company almost as much as the company had to adjust to its new market.

"In the beginning, the clientele had a hard time pronouncing 'Rotpunkt,' which means 'Red Dot' in German but at the same time, we secured a good position in the Lee County market."

But, she quickly points out, the way the company overcame the language barrier was by "having the clients' needs and desires in mind while creating beautiful, highly functional and price-conscious designs."

To meet that demand, she explains, the company offers a unique design approach which now includes new-construction projects, as well.

"We have three designers, including a CKD, and what we do is go out and get the business by approaching the builders.

As a result, 90% of our work is done through builders," she says.

"Our designers go out to the builders and approach them and do the introduction at the builders' site. We will even bring door samples [so builders can see our product offerings]," she adds.

"Ninety percent [of our projects] are new construction jobs [we get a lot of projects such as] high-rises and spec homes and 10% of our projects [come to us directly from] the clients," Stephenson-Stach notes.

"However, the whole process [of building our business has been] about creating a relationship with the builders. Once you are in with the builder and they like your product, you have a good chance of repeat business."

For instance, Stephenson-Stach describes a recent collaboration with a builder that went so well, that the clients are continuously referring the company to their neighbors.

"There is a little referral system going on where people work with the builder, and then the builder works with us," she remarks, quickly adding: " [We are not] like your regular business because we have to go out and introduce our product to the builders and make them come to us."

She notes that the company is extremely proactive about reaching builders and building a strong referral base through satisfied clients.

For instance, the company which is a licensed distributor of K├╝ppersbusch will entertain builders and designers a few times during the year at one of the company's showrooms. The firm has even held cooking demonstrations featuring professional chefs to enhance its visibility in the community and stir up interest.

The company also runs radio ads and advertises in the Yellow Pages, newspapers and trade magazines to further promote the business, Stephenson-Stach notes.

Culture stock
While kitchen and bath design is a key facet of Rotpunkt's business, according to Stephenson-Stach, the company also needed to extend its line of product offerings to more fully cater to its U.S. clientele.

She notes: "When Rotpunkt introduced its cabinetry in the U.S for the first time having a very contemporary line in a very traditional market we had to accommodate our line by adding new traditional door styles. Having a very high-tech inside, [mixing] the latest in Germany's and Italy's innovations together with a traditional look on the outside, makes our cabinetry unique."

And that, she believes, bespeaks success in any language..