In 1994 when Quoizel Lighting and Home Furnishings was rapidly outgrowing its New York/New Jersey facilities, the only additional land available for expansion near their Long Island plant was five acres, on the market for more than $1 million. While neither New York officials nor the local utilities made much of an effort to retain Quoizel’s business, economic developers in both South Carolina and Georgia welcomed Ira Phillips, Quoizel’s CEO and owner, with open arms.
Goose Creek won out over Savannah, and Phillips took the offer of 63 acres for $900,000-roughly $15,000 an acre. Incentives offered by the state and Berkeley County included 15-year state and local tax abatements and free training for workers hired who had been on welfare or displaced from other jobs. The area was then designated a foreign trade zone by the South Carolina Department of Commerce, which enabled Quoizel to import parts from overseas duty free.
The perks didn’t end there. Not only were utility rates a third of those in Long Island, but the cost of transporting a shipping container from port to warehouse was $50, compared to $350 in New York.
Construction started in 1995 on the 300,000 square foot, $10 million state-of-the-art facility. In 1999 an additional 200,000 square feet was completed.
Quoizel made national headlines in 1996 when they relocated not only upper management and supervisors but also nearly 75% of the factory workers as well.
While the move cost Quoizel more than 41 million, the novel approach seemed to have worked. Whereas statistics show that most factories struggle during the first year of a major relocation, Quoizel ended 1996 with a 20% increase in revenue. By transferring experienced production employees and going the extra mile to help them relocate, Quoizel benefited in several ways. By transferring experienced workers, new line employees were able to receive hands-on training, so downtime before inventory could be shipped was minimal. Along with lump sums paid for moving costs, Quoizel negotiated special deals with movers and even gave employees new washers and dryers. The company’s generosity also helped boost employee loyalty.
With a straightforward operating philosophy-“deliver value and apply that principle to every phase of the business”-Quoizel offers a full product line of more than 2,000 items, including wall fixtures, table and floor lamps, as well as one of the industry’s largest selections of Tiffany-styled pieces. The company’s designers stay on the cutting edge of trends in residential architecture and interior design. In 1998 Quoizel introduced it’s furniture line and last year debuted Lenox Lighting, a lighting collection in conjunction with Lenox China.
Quoizel has more than 2,000 retail distributors, the majority located within the United States. Approximately 10% of Quoizel’s annual sales are foreign generated, primarily from Canada and South America. International business consists mainly of importing finished goods from Asia, The Philippines, Mexico, Canada, Spain, France and Italy. Approximately 80% of everything shipped into the Goose Creek facility is foreign-made, with China the main producer of almost 90% of all Quoizel imports.
Because transportation plays a major role in Quoizel’s success, Operations Manager Ed Clark applauds both Atlantic Trucking Company and Evergreen America Shipping. “Both companies are very ‘user-friendly’ and run like clockwork,” Clark says. “Quoizel uses the Port of Charleston exclusively because of one work: Location. Their proximity to our plant makes scheduling of shipments a one-step process, and Atlantic Trucking is able to give us a turn-around time of 20-30 minutes, which also simplifies the operation. My hat is off not only to the Ports Authority but to Evergreen and Atlantic as well.”
With revenues exceeding $82 million in 2000, Quoizel has proven that combining a quality-based management philosophy with cutting-edge technology and the ability to track current market cycles can produce illuminated success.