• Thomas Russell

Bill Benton launches new case goods importer Folio 21

Sean Slack, James Martin Jr. also are key executives
 Bill Benton is president and CEO of Folio 21, a new case goods company he has formed with former CR International and Powell executive Sean Slack and Broyhill sales representative James Martin Jr.Bill Benton is president and CEO of Folio 21, a new case goods company he has formed with former CR International and Powell executive Sean Slack and Broyhill sales representative James Martin Jr.
HIGH POINT — Three furniture industry veterans have formed a case goods importer that will debut next month, offering bedrooms with features and benefits it says are aimed at younger consumers and others seeking a fresh and compelling value story.

Bill Benton and Sean Slack, former executives at CR International and Powell Co., have teamed with Broyhill sales rep James Martin Jr. to form Folio 21.

At Premarket in High Point, which runs Sept. 12-13, the company will show a line of contemporary leaning bedrooms sourced from Vietnam. Five-piece sets are targeted to retail from $1,699 to $2,499, with the bulk of the groups retailing from $1,699 to $1,999.

At Premarket and the Oct. 22-27 High Point Market, Folio 21 will show in the International Home Furnishings Center, space W-647. Corporate offices will be in High Point's Radio Building.

The initial launch will focus on bedroom, but the company also plans to offer correlating casual dining at the April market.

Benton, former president of CR International and president and CEO of Powell, is president and CEO of Folio 21. Slack is executive vice president of merchandising and product development, and Martin is vice president of major accounts.

Officials said they engaged in months of market research to prepare for the launch of the new company.

"We launched this company to address the void we've identified in the marketplace for quality features at affordable retails," Slack said in a statement. "Our target is retailers who are looking for the next level of product and our focus will be unique design and hip styling combined with all of the best construction standards, including full-extension side guides and English dovetailing. Our products emphasize high quality, multi-step finishing and unique veneers, which are not usually found in goods at this price level."

Due to low overhead costs associated with the new company, the company plans to offer values that don't currently exist in the marketplace, Benton said.

"We're coming to market with an edgier look aimed at younger consumers who have been proving indifferent to the me-too products that have characterized retail floors for the past few years," he said. "The industry has been chasing cheap goods and we all know it's not working; the majority of average-unit-dollar sales are dropping while costs have continued to rise. Our goal is to give consumers a compelling reason to step up."

Thomas RussellThomas Russell | Associate Editor, FurnitureToday

I'm Tom Russell and have worked at Furniture/Today since August 2003. Since then, I have covered the international side of the business from a logistics and sourcing standpoint. Since then, I also have visited several furniture trade shows and manufacturing plants in Asia, which has helped me gain perspective about the industry in that part of the world. As I continue covering the import side of the business, I look forward to building on that knowledge base through conversations with industry officials and future overseas plant tours. From time to time, I will file news and other industry perspectives online and, as always, welcome your response to these Web postings.

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