Triple Play

 

Stow Company Meets customers’ Needs for Quality, Design, Delivery in Home Storage and Organization

By Jim Leute

 

When it comes to arranging their stuff, consumers are more and more interested in quality, custom design and speed of delivery, three buying factors that continue to keep The Stow Company at the forefront of the custom home storage and organization industry.

Founded in 1984, the Holland, Mich.-based company provides custom storage and organization solutions for all areas of the home, including closets, garage, pantry, laundry and mudrooms, as well as entertainment centers, wall-beds and more.

Stow last year acquired Distinctive Wine Cellars, a company that makes custom wood wine cellars. The DWC manufacturing operation runs from a 36,000-square-foot facility in Indianapolis, Indiana.

And in May, the company plans to roll out a partnership with The Home Depot that will allow customers in select stores and online to order custom organization systems for the closet, pantry, laundry room and other spaces.

The Stow Company’s innovative products and services are tailored to specific customers’ needs through authorized dealers, online and retail channels.

ORG Home custom solutions are available through a nationwide network of authorized design and installation dealers. The comprehensive line includes more than 20 colors, nine styles for door or drawer fronts, several types of drawer construction and a wide selection of accessories and hardware.

Distinctive Wine Cellars custom-designed residential and commercial wine storage and organization systems are available through authorized design and installation dealers.

EasyClosets is a leading online provider of do-it-yourself, custom-cut products. The products are primarily sold online at www.EasyClosets.com. Using an intuitive design tool, customers design custom systems fabricated from 3/4-inch commercial grade composite panels made from recycled and recovered wood fibers with a durable thermally fused laminate (TFL) surface. Configurations come in 11 colors and four hardware finishes.

Easy Track modular storage systems are available through leading home improvement retailers, such as Menards, Do It Best, Ace and many other participating retailers. The easy-to-assembly kits come in three colors and are simple to design and install. Closets are made with high-quality commercial grade composite panels and finished in thermally fused laminate (TFL).

 “The strategy certainly is to cover the needs of all customers,” said Randy Tallman, the company’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “We had the dealers and the retail channels, and we acquired the online component in 2008.”

While Stow now makes a specific Martha Stewart Living line of closet organizers for The Home Depot, the impending partnership with one of the nation’s largest retailers represents an exciting collaboration of Stow’s custom capabilities and The Home Depot’s online and retail channels, Tallman said.

“It’s a new avenue for a product line that will allow customers to touch and feel the quality of our system, input their specific dimensions and customize their space with our easy-to-use design tool,” he said.

“It will provide customers with more customization options than they’d normally get in the retail channel, and it’s appealing to The Home Depot because they don’t have to stock the product.”

The partnership is another extension of Stow’s mission to connect with customers, solve their home organization needs and make their lives more efficient and enjoyable, Tallman said.

Customer service, he said, is all encompassing, whether it’s interactions with Stow’s expert design, installation and customer support teams, its intuitive websites and design tools or the significant capital the company routinely invests in equipment and processes to make the manufacturing state-of-the-art for its customers and its 275 employees.

“Whatever it takes, our philosophy is to take care of the customer,” Tallman said. “That sounds simple, but it’s not always easy for a company.”

That extends beyond the company’s world class manufacturing operation that’s known for short turnarounds on orders of thermally fused laminated panels that are cut, drilled and edge-banded in a wide variety of colors, doors and fronts and hardware.

“Online orders typically ship in less than 24 hours,” Tallman said. “Retail orders take about 48 hours, and the turnaround for dealers is about 72 hours.

“The speed and accuracy with which we fulfill orders is impressive because the customization process takes a lot of precision and effort, combined with advanced design and machinery.”

Discerning customers

Jon King, the company’s design manager, said The Stow Company recognizes several trends in the industry.

“We’re seeing the demand for quality over quantity,” he said. “Consumers are equally concerned about the quality of their items as they are about the quantity. Mass consumption is being held in check by a desire for elements with substance, created with thought and that retain value.”

“They realize that better function and nicer surfaces really do matter. A lot of it, I think, is an affirmation of where they are in life.”

That thinking extends to closets, which are part of the bedroom “spa” or retreat, garages, mudrooms, laundry rooms and extra bedrooms that are now home offices, all targets for the custom organization that The Stow Company specializes in.

“Today’s consumers are more design literate,” King said. “They know what they want, and they know what matters.”

As the overall economy continues to rebound, consumers are more willing to spend money on projects that bear a higher cost.

In one sense, King said that could be an extension of a consumer mindset formed during the Great Recession.

“During these challenging economic times, more people stayed and entertained at home,” King said. “Meal preparation became part of the evening’s event.

“Out of that came a greater sense of community, and the ‘open plan’ home idea that has resonated with homeowners over the years is increasingly growing in popularity.”

For example, he said, the pantry is now seen as a cool, integral part of the kitchen that can be proudly displayed rather than a space that is hidden behind closed doors.

 

High profile projects

Stow earned industry recognition and publicity in 2012 when its ORG Home line was used in the redesign of the home garage of Michael Andretti, legendary race car driver, team owner of Andretti Autosport and a contestant on TV’s “Celebrity Apprentice.”

The showroom-style makeover of Andretti’s garage featured ORG Home garage cabinets and work benches that provide a clean, effective way to organize equipment and keep clutter neatly hidden away.

Cool features included lighted display cases, tall cabinets with one-inch shelves that adjust easily, hanging rods that store racing jackets and dovetail drawers that provide a convenient place to store tools and other supplies.

A specially designed parking space for the family’s scooters included a wall system for storage of helmets, keys, jackets and more.

To blend with the Andretti home’s old world charm, Copper Blaze cabinets and textured work surfaces were used throughout the garage.

“My ORG Home garage is beautiful,” Andretti said in a Stow news release. “The whole solution was custom designed for us. We couldn’t ask for anything better.”

The company also redesigned and outfitted the Andretti pit garage at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

“We do a lot of work with celebrities, and most of them are not like the Andretti project,” Tallman said. “A lot of them are done very quietly, so we don’t always get the opportunity to do a big splash like we did with the Andretti project.”

The celebrity projects certainly are unique, he said. But it’s the everyday projects that King said fuel him and the Stow team.

“When it comes to design, we pay attention to the needs of the end-user, instead of reacting to the latest trend,” King said. “We care about what that person really needs and getting the right solutions to the right people. Our goal is to get to the forefront of that, across all of our channels.”

Tallman said continuous investment in new products, equipment and technology, as well as a focus on evolving customer needs, will keep The Stow Company on the leading edge as a provider of custom home storage and organization systems.

“We believe the future looks very good,” Tallman said. “We’ve definitely seen that the market has strengthened, and we’ve been able to grow along with it.”

 

“The speed and accuracy with which we fulfill orders is impressive because the customization process takes a lot of precision and effort, combined with advanced design and machinery.”

Randy Tallman, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Stow

 

“We’re seeing the demand for quality over quantity. Consumers are equally concerned about the quality of their items as they are about the quantity. Mass consumption is being held in check by a desire for elements with substance, created with thought and that retain value.”

Jon King, Design Manager for Stow