The following text is an article from the Whitby Free Press dated Wednesday, September 23rd, 1987.
Sklar Peppler: A Growing Company in a Cyclical Industry
With a huge Mississauga show-room scheduled for completion in January and the possibility of a new manufacturing plant in the U.S. and another in western Canada, Whitby-based Sklar-Peppler continues to grow in the ever-changing furniture industry.
"It's a fast track all the time," says president and chief executive officer Lou Sklar of a manufacturing concern that requires constant innovation in engineering and design and consistent quality in a product that will attract a consumer's extra dollars.
"Our industry is very cyclical," says Sklar. "While most other industries follow the economic cycles, ours is subject to wider swings because people can live without furniture." Sales manager Doug Dobbyn compares furniture to clothing -people buy it when they can. But he notes that the health of the general economy is "very important to us." He points out that great housing growth, such as in the Whitby area, might make the appliance industry very strong but not, at least immediately, the furniture-makers. "Our competition is not so much other furniture manufacturers, ours is auto or vacation," says Sklar. "Somewhere else to spend disposable income," adds Dobbyn. Dobbyn says the furniture industry reached its peak in the late 1970s but slowed in the '80s because of such factors as high interest on Canada Savings Bonds. "People didn't spend," he says. "It was very tough on the furniture builder and on the car business, too."
1987 started strongly, he notes, before slowing in the second quarter. But fall, traditionally the best time of the year for furniture, has been "extremely strong," he says, The company entered the U.S. market four years ago and Sklar says "It's been growing nicely." In fact, he expects that a free trade agreement will benefit the company. -We are confident it would be good for us," he states, despite the cheaper manufacturing costs for U.S. furniture-makers and the closer proximity to the large markets they enjoy. "We're confident we can manage the problem and be successful," says Sklar, who is considering a new plant in the U.S. if an area can be identified where the market will allow Sklar-Peppler to compete. "And we may want a facility in western Canada in due course," he adds. Meanwhile, a 40,000 sq, ft. structure in Mississauga will showcase the company's products which aimed at the middle to upper-middle income consumer and has never really ventured from that strata. If the company ever aimed lower or higher, "The psychology of our operation would not be able to function there," says Sklar. -You can't be too many things to too many people." He credits his workforce for the three main ingredients -engineering, fashion, and quality-that have brought success. "We have people going all over the world looking for new ideas, even in the art galleries," he says. Sklar-Peppler designers come up with most of the product style changes but U.S. design consultants are also engaged. "We use outside consultants, not because we don't have the talent, but to give us a different dimension to the way we present ourselves to the marketplace," says Sklar.
A large range of fabrics, including many from Europe, a complement to the wood and veneer in a Sklar-Peppler product. And when a major account once requested it, developed a bedding line was developed, says Dobbyn, testimony to the company's client as well as marketplace adaptation.
The Trilliums: Sklar Takes Top Award
Sklar-Peppler Inc. of Whitby received the Canadian furniture industry's highest accolade at the 1987 Trillium Awards banquet in Mississauga.
The Special Minister's Award, or Grand Trillium, was presented to Sklar-Peppler for having the highest aggregate point total in judging by a jury of retailers. The Ontario Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology annually presents the award.
Sklar-Peppler won seven Trilliums: for occasional chairs, traditional bedroom furniture, upholstered sectionals, country upholstered suite, contemporary upholstered suite, upholstered motion furniture and collections. The minister's award was for the furniture maker's cameo collection, a 38-piece collection of traditional bedrooms, dining room, wall units and occasional tables. Company president Lou Sklar said the collection is reminiscent of antique styles of a bygone era. The design was influenced by the decor of turn-of-the-century homes throughout Ontario, The Trilliums are considered the most prestigious Canadian awards to recognize marketing excellence and consumer value for furniture manufactured in Ontario. Sklar-Peppler also received six merit awards. "We have a history of Trillium awards." says Lou Sklar, saying it is evidence of the company's position as "fashion leaders." "It shows our products are well respected in the marketplace," he adds. Moreover, he says, the product sells. "People can design beautiful products but people don't always want them."
The Grand Trillium Minister's Award was the second for Sklar-Peppier. Sklar's 1987 award was for the Cameo collection of traditional bedroom and dining room furniture collection consisting of 38 items produced from white oaks veneers hickory solids with custom brass-finished hardware, hand leaded glass accentuating the rich vintage finish. Sklar-Peppier has also won a prestigious Daphne Award in a furniture manufacturing competition. The Whitby manufacturer was first in the occasional table and desks category for its contemporary table made of hickory solids and teak veneers. The Daphne Awards are considered North America's most prestigious achievement awards. They are given annually to manufacturers for their superlative designs and consumer value.
This year is the first time Canadian manufacturers have shared in receiving the awards with U.S. companies. Sklar-Peppler of Whitby also received a Daphne merit award in the upholstered dual-purpose furniture category, for a contemporary style sofa bed, designed by Hoi Choi. The Daphne awards are sponsored by the Hardwood Institute, a division of the National Hardwood Lumber Association.