I recently caught up with RowOne CEO Todd Girdis to talk about the RowOne relaunch, the effect of the Coronavirus on his business, and the latest product lines. Part 1.
Maureen Jenson: Congratulations on the RowOne relaunch! Tell our readers a little something about the company’s history?
Todd Girdis: 10-years ago Robert Cribbs acquired RowOne from Texas-based home theater retailer TheaterXtreme after they closed their doors. This initially established the RowOne Direct Collection of chair styles. He grew the seating collections and added wood products such as cinebars and second and third row risers.
I worked for RowOne from 2017 – 2019 as their Director of Sales and Marketing. This was an exciting time, growing the company to the point of being named a Top 5 seating brand in the 2018 CE Pro 100 Brand Analysis. We are very proud of this given the many highly recognized seating companies that have occupied the space for decades.
After a brief change in ownership, earlier this year I stepped-in to acquire the company and every day since we’ve been busy reconnecting with dealers and making refinements to several of our Direct Collection chair styles.
MJ: What prompted the relaunch and why now?
TG: Maureen, I say this all the time: I truly love this industry. I started by founding a CI/CE firm in 2001. Since those days, I also worked for manufacturers, buying groups and service providers in the CEDIA channel. When I had the opportunity to purchase RowOne I jumped at the chance. I really believe in the RowOne brand and what we bring to the CI/CE retailers. And most of all I want us to have fun doing this! We are selling a fun product – powered reliable recliners with innovative tech to consumers who want to enjoy spending time at home with family and/or friends while being entertained despite the impact to their lives as a result of COVID-19. What’s better than that?
I’m energized to continue the positive momentum that we created during my earlier leadership with the company. The message I want to share with CI/CE retailers is that we are, supporting you and providing profitable competitive home entertainment and home theater furniture styles consumers love while we assist you with specifying designs and configurations for your customers’ residence. Furthermore, there simply has not been a better time to present furniture seating solutions in years. This due to the cooler outdoor temperatures and the desire of consumers to have indoor home entertainment options for their families and friends over the next three months!
MJ: How has the Coronavirus affected your plans and how are you pushing through this unprecedented time?
TG: Well while certainly no one ever plans to re-launch a company just as a pandemic hits (said laughing); it didn’t hurt us, it maybe even helped us. I say this because for the first time in ages dealers had the time to take a deep breath and were excited to hear about the benefits to the end-results of our seating. Plus, as mentioned in the previous question, there is an unprecedented opportunity as now 3/4 of the nation is going into the cold-weather season. The indoor home theater and home entertainment season is really heating up. So, we made sure to have an ample inventory in the US and we have that in the warehouse now.
MJ: How are your product lines meeting the needs of today’s integrator?
TG: The seating styles that dealers and homeowners have come to love over the years will remain. This includes our Revolution, Prestige, Plaza II, and Galaxy II series from our RowOne Direct Collection. We’ve made some refinements here and there that dealers and homeowners love.
To the heart of your question, our mission statement is Home Entertainment with a Vision. What we are talking about with respect to “vision” is giving the integrators the seating solutions to position against the retail furniture competition. In other words doing all that we can to make sure that our seating offerings are market competitive or market unique as well as our offering other surprise and delight features so that the homeowner will purchase from the CI/CE retailer and not the furniture retailer.
For example, If you look at our seating configuration for sofas our center seat doesn’t eliminate the power recline feature where the furniture industry seating is just the opposite.
If you look at our Revolution chair style — our crown jewel of seating styles — we felt it should have something unique in the industry so we incorporated a neat feature wherein the cup holder and base rails provide a 3-step dimmable operation to improve the viewing experience so the lighting effect doesn’t impede upon the screen image.
From the standpoint of seating coverings, we upgraded our Plaza II model from a bonded leather to a polyurethane fabric because you no longer see bonded leather in the furniture industry. We don’t want our dealers to be selling product that is no longer market competitive!
Stay tuned next week as Todd and I discuss why there is no reason a dealer should lose the home entertainment seating/home theater seating sale to a furniture store! Part Two Here