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A.P. Inds. rebrands image to bolster U.S. business

Sales force promotes adult, youth bedroom lines

Heath E. Combs -- Furniture Today, October 21, 2010

 The Sienna two-drawer nightstand in an Espresso finish is among the products A.P. Inds. introduced at the High Point Market.The Sienna two-drawer nightstand in an Espresso finish is among the products A.P. Inds. introduced at the High Point Market.
HIGH POINT — As Canadian manufacturer A.P. Inds. celebrates 60 years of building bedroom furniture, it's also kicking off a rebranding effort as the company continues a push for greater U.S. sales.

Recent months have brought a new management team, which has revamped the company's U.S. sales force.

Carl Benjamin was hired in the spring for work in international and commercial markets and Ken Loh joined the company in July as vice president of sales. A.P. also replaced its entire U.S. sales force with seven new sales representatives.

"It's a long process, but this market is the first part of rebranding the company," Loh said.

He said most U.S. retailers know the company primarily as a juvenile line, but that has typically been only about half of the company's sales. Previously, U.S. stores weren't approached about selling the adult line, Loh said, which the company is now putting more emphasis on.

A.P. has had a traditional style focus in years past, but last year a new contemporary collection, Element, quickly became one of its best sellers, he said. The new U.S. sales force is working to help the company become better known as a source for contemporary furniture.

Contemporary is the focus of three new collections it introduced for the High Point Market, Trip Hop, Landscape and House, with a total of 60 SKUs. The market concludes today.

Also new is the contemporary Sienna group, an extension of its solid birch and veneer Blue Note collection designed by Alain Juneau, a former designer with contemporary specialist Baronet who recently joined A.P.

The company also is promoting its multiple finish options, and its ISO 9000 certification for quality management guidelines - a rarity for North American case goods manufacturers, Loh said. And this week, the company will begin offering a lifetime warranty on all glides used in its case goods.

A.P. also has been more involved in contract and international furnishings this year with a sales force of six reps focusing on the category, said Carl Benjamin, vice president of international development.

The company was founded in 1950 by Arthur Houde, then 54, with a furniture factory in Laurier-Station, Quebec. The following year he hired his son Paul to help manage the business, and the company's name was derived from their initials. The elder Houde retired in 1972 but remained involved in the business until his death in 1994.

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