Category 2 Overall Excellence in operating a Kitchen & Bath Distribution or "Whotail" Firm

Category 2 Overall Excellence in operating a Kitchen & Bath Distribution or "Whotail" Firm

First place: Reico Kitchen & Bath, Springfield, VA

Dual Service Strategy Fuels Firm's Success

As both a retailer and wholesaler, REICO faces a variety of challenges. But just the fact that the firm sells approximately 500 kitchens each week more than all of the home centers in the market combined strongly suggests that REICO is not only meeting those challenges, but exceeding all customer expectations.

With the service of some 325 employees at their disposal to help them with their kitchen remodel projects, customers can choose from a wide array of kitchen and bath product lines, such as Merillat, Amera, Moen, Silestone and Miele. REICO strives toward providing a stress-free experience for both wholesale and retail customers.

REICO has organized its showrooms to operate almost as independent companies, with its 14 branch managers acting as presidents of their own businesses. Corporate staff is set up specifically to help the sales team. The heads of the various corporate teams, such as marketing, information services and inventory, visit the showrooms every few days, updating staff on new products and making sure the selection centers are complete and correct. Members of the corporate design team are also in the showrooms on a daily basis to ensure the displays are current and accessorized appropriately.

For wholesale customers, the firm provides turnkey service, including a broad product selection, expert design, installation and post-installation customer service. The company's computerized quote system allows for fast quote updates when design changes are made.

An extensive inventory, housed in a 180,000-sq.-ft. warehouse in Elkridge, MD, reduces lead times and facilitates last-minute changes, notes the company. The facility receives eight tractor-trailer loads of cabinets daily, and ships 35 straight trucks of product to customers each day.

On the retail side, customers are invited to browse, with designers standing by to answer any questions. There is a children's area to keep little ones occupied, as well as an Idea Room, where clients can meet with a designer or flip through design books and magazines. 

To help ensure good client relations, all REICO designers and salespeople must complete the multi-week REICO University training program, which covers kitchen/bath design techniques, product application procedures, sales strategies and new technology. Ten days of design training are also required each year as a refresher.

When working with a customer, the REICO designer formulates a master plan for the project, including accurate cost estimates and realistic timetables. All of these service elements help REICO cater to its customers and meet its ultimate goal: to produce the kitchen the client wants without surprises, on time and on budget.

While almost 50 percent of all customers are referred by previous clients, the company asks all trade and retail customers to complete surveys upon completion of their jobs. This gives REICO the information needed to measure customer satisfaction, which it can use to build future business and keep its customers satisfied.

2nd place: Standard Kitchen Distributors, Grand Rapids, MI

Company's Formula Focuses on Client Needs 

When your company has been in business for almost 100 years, you must be doing something right. So believes Standard Kitchen Distributors owner Tim Rotschaefer, whose Grand Rapids, MI-based firm's long-term reputation for excellence has not only kept the business going strong since 1904, but also won it second-place honors in Category Two of K&BDN's 2001 Industry Leadership Awards. 

Focusing on new home building and all aspects of new and old home remodeling, the company prides itself on offering more new products on a continuous basis, and knowing the needs of its marketplace, builders, contractors, clients and each of their customer's requirements. Well-trained, seasoned salespeople teamed with professional product specialists add to the firm's success formula, as does a a practice of constantly re-merchandising the product showroom. A strict policy of standing behind the firm's products and following up on all aspects of installations enhances referrals.

3rd place: Builders Distributing, Company, Inc., Midlothian, VA

Distribution Firm Keeps Customers Up-To-Date

For Builders Distributing Co., Inc., less apparently is more. Though the Midlothian, VA-based firm has only five employees, the focus on superior customer service remains strong. The company individually manages all aspects of the business, including customer service, sales and support. Its dedication to service helped the company earn third-place honors in Category Two of K&BDN's third annual Industry Leadership Awards.

Owner Lonnie Farmer and manager Jo Anne Woolfolk pride themselves on knowing the special needs of their marketplace, and keeping the staff well informed, as well. This knowledge serves them in their work with high-end builders and remodelers, who need to be kept informed of operations and construction requirements that impact their market. 

While service is the firm's primary focus, Builders Distributing also boasts a large display area featuring brand merchandise, including countertops and cabinets from Wellborn Cabinet. The showroom also showcases a complete selection of door styles according to wood species and finish.

Builders Distributing pre-qualifies its products as a service to its customers. This helps to make the planning process easier for all parties, keeping service at an optimum level.