Issue Date: 2018 DECEMBER, Posted On: 12/4/2018

12042018 With Big Plans, Brandon Culpepper Is Confident Orian's 2019 Will Be Even Better Than a Record 2018

Orian's  Brandon Culpepper, chief revenue officer, sits down in an exclusive interview with RugNews.com and shares some major 2019 Orian news.
ANDERSON, S.C. -- Orian's Brandon Culpepper, who helped lay the groundwork for some mega changes at the U.S. rug manufacturer, which posted historic sales gains in 2018 of 15 percent, pencils in another record-breaker for 2019.

In an exclusive interview, Culpepper, who is just shy of the one year mark as Orian's chief revenue officer, told RugNews.com the company won't be resting on its laurels either; it has plenty of exciting plans it is rolling out in the upcoming months, including some major news headlining in Atlanta.

Orian's innovative space-dyed high-end polyester Cotton Tail construction in the Cross Thatch design was a smash hit in 2018.

"2018 will be our best year to date," Culpepper said. "That is due partly to new products that were well received and also a trend toward Made in America -- it's an advantage to make rugs here... And, we budgeted more growth in 2019 than we realized in 2018," Culpepper added. "We believe that domestic manufacturers will continue to have a big advantage in 2019 and we will do all we can to capitalize on that."

Orian has major plans underway to position the company for continued growth in the next year and beyond. So, in addition to adding new products and qualities to its assortment, including growing to its popular Home by Jennifer Adams program, Orian will be rebranding its showrooms in Atlanta, Las Vegas and High Point to its new mid-tier brand called Palmetto Living (read full story). What's more, the domestic rug maker relocates to a new space in Vegas that expands its footprint.
"We will have a new Las Vegas showroom in January. We will continue to add staff to our sales, design, and creative services teams," Culpepper said of Orian's plans for 2019. "Also, the big news: we will launch a new brand [Palmetto Living] at the winter shows that will generate a lot of excitement for the industry!"
Orian will rename its Atlanta, Las Vegas and High Point showrooms this winter with its new Palmetto Living brand, logo pictured above.
According to Culpepper, the new Vegas showroom, located at B-362 in World Market Center, is a bit larger than its prior space, more visible and features higher ceilings, which will allow the company to showcase 8x11s in its main display. The space will carry the new Palmetto Living signage, and about 17 of Orian's successful mid-tier area rug collections, priced at $199 and up retail, will be showcased here, as well as in the Atlanta and High Point Palmetto Living showrooms. (Orian's New York space will continue to carry the Orian name and will feature products priced between $99-$299 retail.)

"Also, we will bring a lot of new product to market in 2019 as we seek to become a more diverse vendor for our customers.  We will add new fibers to the mix: soft polypropylene, polyester, nylon and wool.  And our 5x8 price points will range from $99 to $599."
In comparison to 2019 plans, 2018 was equally as busy -- not only from a new products standpoint but also from the operational side. 
The Home by Jennifer Adams rug launch in spring 2018 was an Orian hit and will add a line of low-profile indoor-outdoor designs in January 2019. Shown, Nardik in Cotton Tail construction

From improving employee relations and retention to introducing new constructions and qualities, Orian has had quite a 2018 -- a year that will see revenue up around 15 percent over 2017, according to Culpepper.
"We took a long, hard look at who we were as a company," Culpepper explained. "We asked ourselves some hard questions ... Do our people love coming to work? Do they understand the vision for Orian and are they committed to it? How are we regarded by our customers and the market in general? Do we have the salespeople and the products we need to win?  Can we design world-class product that is made in America? Is our manufacturing efficient?  Do we have redundancy and/or complexity that we can eliminate?  Do we have the right vendor relationships?

"The answers to those questions led us to make a massive amount of change in every phase of our business." ¨Culpepper noted, "We turned the company upside down and shook it to put the people and processes in place that will win. The end result is that the change that needed to happen has happened, and we are seeing positive results. Orian is fully committed to its vision and it is in position to lead the machine-woven rug market in 2019 and beyond."

In fact, one of the major challenges faced by Orian was to reduce employee turnover, which was hovering around 33 percent in 2016. "Our biggest accomplishment was getting buy-in from the 460 people who make up the Orian family. We are building a culture where our people know how much they are loved and appreciated. Our employee turnover rate is almost zero today.  That is the core of what we want to be...  If our people are passionate about Orian, that positive energy will radiate outward to retailers and consumers. There is nothing more important than our culture."

Soft and plush designs defined many of the successes Orian had in 2018, including Aria, among the year's best-sellers. Shown, Aria 8218 Izmir
What's more, during 2018, Orian also began re-evaluating its area rug offering and expanded its selection to include fresh and novel constructions while whittling away at under-performers. 

"We brought out more product in 2018 than we did in the previous five years combined," Culpepper said. "We introduced our first space-dyed polyester product [Cotton Tail] and it quickly became the most successful launch in Orian's history. We added product at all price points. And, we launched the Jennifer Adams license, which has proven to be effective."

The biggest growth drivers during the year proved its new space-dyed polyester programs, its new higher-end soft polypropylene products, and several new shag programs, Culpepper elaborated, adding that Orian saw the most growth in its e-commerce business and also added some new key specialty retail accounts in 2018.

In fact, Orian's top three best-selling rug collections during the year included the dense polypropylene Aria (MSRP, $638.40 in 5x8), the boucle polypropylene yarn Boucle (MSRP, $299) and the plush polyester Cotton Tail ((MSRP, $638.40) collections. Among the best-selling new introductions are: the dense polypropylene Adagio collection, Aria, Cotton Tail, and the plush polypropylene Mystical.

Orian's new Adagio collection, shown in Tribal Throne in off-white, proved a 2018 success and featured a sought-after plush hand.
The hugely successful Cotton Tail soft shag program is licensed with Jennifer Adams. This program has been the biggest launch in Orian history and will be a leading product in 2019," Culpepper said. "We will go to the other end of the spectrum with Jennifer's program in 2019. In January, she will intro a very sophisticated, low-profile indoor/outdoor program that is made in Anderson."

2018 also saw Orian take comprehensive stock of its established area rug assortment, assessing existing products to determine whether they should stay in the company lineup.
"We kept it simple," Culpepper noted of the company's 2018 business strategy. "We took new product to our strongest partners. We moved away from products and programs that were either no longer profitable or that did not make sense for our manufacturing concept. In short, we tried to do more of what was working and then quickly move away from things that were not."

Orian's new tonal carved designs of the Boucle collection, crafted of boucle polypropylene, made its 2018 top three list.

The Mystical collection (Mystical 7014 Dreamy, pictured) is another plush polypropylene assortment that appealed to rug buyers in 2018.

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