Kenroy Home's  acquisition of Illinois-based TruHome USA — which focuses on specialty home furnishing retailers — in August has opened up new business channels for the two industry brands.
Coming less than 18 months after Kenroy Home became employee-owned (employees pictured here), the decision to expand by way of an acquisition was carefully weighed. “We have people who have invested their hard-earned savings in something they believe in, and there is no greater motivator to perform and succeed than having ‘skin in the game,'" says Kenroy Home President and CEO Bob Pape. “And it appears to be working.”
In a time when stories of lighting companies closing or downsizing have become all too common, news of growth is encouraging.
“While we, like all businesses, have certainly been impacted by economic conditions, we are investing in our business while others pull back, growing in emerging channels and categories ahead of our operating plan and timetable, and have made the Kenroy Home brand visible with new products, and a new outlook and attitude,” says Pape.
Earlier this year, the company was in the midst of considering its growth strategy, weighing the slower route of internal development and product launches in multiple categories against the fast track of expansion by acquisition when Kenroy executives were approached by TruHome founder Bart Levine. Levine had also previously served as President of Orbit, a developer and marketer of casual and contemporary home furnishings in Chicago.
“We had always admired Orbit’s product range and saw the potential for collaboration,” says Pape. “After several full-day sessions of getting to know each other and finding multiple synergies, we decided to integrate TruHome into Kenroy Home.”
Kenroy’s reputation as a leading product and operations team attracted Levine, who says he had been looking to partner with a company that had a proven record of operational excellence.
“Most lighting companies in the industry are in divest mode — closing distribution facilities, China offices, and U.S. showrooms,” says Levine, who is now Vice President of Specialty Retail for Kenroy Home/TruHome USA. “Kenroy Home is the exception. They’re in invest mode — positioned for the future and upgrading systems, processes, marketing and products. Above all, they support and motivate their people.”
In his new role, Levine will join Kenroy’s senior marketing team, focusing on sales, marketing and product planning and direction for specialty retailers.
The acquisition was a win-win proposition, explains Pape. “Bart had an eye for product, the knowledge to help us enter new categories, and established relationships with customers that we could build on,” he says. “We also had the opportunity to help Bart better serve his customers in an increasingly competitive, time-constrained and regulated environment.”
Looking ahead, both companies seek to deliver benefits from the acquisition to their respective customers. Kenroy Home promises fresh, fashion-forward product in expanded home-related categories in the coming months.
TruHome private label customers should see expedited product development cycles, reduced lead times, and an increased emphasis on tracking and logistics, as well as access to a greatly expanded range of lighting product categories for both inside and outside the home, says Pape.