• Powell Slaughter

Phillips Collection ups the ante

Recent property acquisition to increase product availability and improve finishing, product development capability

phillips - burl tableHIGH POINT – Phillips Collection’s acquisition of three warehouse properties a few blocks from its corporate office and showroom here has the high-end contemporary furniture and accessory resource poised to improve service and enhance its product.

Once upfitting is completed in the new locations, the move will represent an investment of $2 million, according to CEO Mark Phillips. Phillips had been renting one of the buildings, a 30,000-square-foot space, and decided to buy the adjacent two identical structures. Those complement the 160,000-plus square feet of showroom/warehouse at Phillips’ existing corporate facility.

The acquisition will improve the availability, quality and features of Phillips’ most important line, Origins, which relies upon huge slabs of salvaged tropical wood for dining and occasional tables with live edges, and giant tree roots for pieces such as consoles and tables.

While the raw materials create one-of-a-kind pieces, they require special drying if they are to work in the varying environmental conditions in the markets Phillips Collection serves, which range from Miami to ski country in the Rockies to desert locales such as Palm Springs or Scottsdale. Phillips currently maintains around 1,000 moisture-adjusted tables in various configurations ready for shipment, and the increased space will up that by as much as 30%.

“Under normal storage conditions, the moisture content of the slabs improves half a percent each month,” Phillips said. “If we can keep one a year … we’re going to send out a much better-adjusted piece.”

The increased space will improve the organization of air-drying and display dramatically, he added: “We sell one-of-a-kinds, so racking doesn’t work as well in allowing customers to come in and view various pieces.”

Such a drying process is often seen in the flooring industry.

“When you buy hardwood flooring for your home, they let it live in your home for a while before they install it,” Phillips said. “We’re doing the same thing on a larger scale.”

Finishing up

The expansion also will enhance Phillips Collection’s finishing capabilities.

“Right now, we deluxe every piece that’s sold, refine it and put on a protective coat of lacquer,” Phillips said. “At the new buildings we hope to extend our finishing ability to custom colors, and custom size the hand nature dealt us with these individual pieces of wood. ... Most people would accept it the way it comes to us. We just wanted to make it better.”

What he called the “luxury of space” will help Phillips develop pieces with Underwriters Laboratory certified lighting, a requirement for hospitality clients.

“I just got back from the Shenzen, China, LED show,” Phillips noted. “Someone is going to marry this technology and subtle enhancements with organic furniture products, and it might as well be Phillips Collection.”

High Point connection

Phillips already had been operating in one of the buildings it acquired as a tenant. Besides offering familiarity with the properties it purchased, the deal represented a commitment to High Point.

“High Point has been a great location for us, and we wanted to invest in our growth here,” Phillips said, adding that he expects to hire another 10 to 15 people to accommodate the growth. “The demand led to the need for increased space, and the business has been good enough to where we can afford it.”

Powell SlaughterPowell Slaughter | Senior Editor

I'm Powell Slaughter, senior editor at Furniture/Today. I returned to the publication in January 2015 after nine years of writing about furniture retail strategies and best practices at a monthly magazine focusing on home furnishings retail operations. Prior to that, I spent 10 years with F/T covering wood furniture, the last five of those as case goods editor. While I cover occasional, home entertainment and home office here, a major responsibility is expanding our attention to the logistics side of the industry. I hope my articles will encourage a dialogue with retailers, vendors, third-party logistics specialists and carriers. I’d love to hear your ideas, concerns and suggestions for smoother flow of material and goods.

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