Rawhide International is a manufacturer of high quality leather furniture, and is a company that prides itself on offering value, comfort and style in equal measure. Their furniture is built to stand the test of time, and is manufactured locally at their facility in Ontario. Customers of Rawhide are offered an unmatched level of attention, and the company’s qualified interior designers and leather experts are there to help them make the right choices for their lifestyle. Custom detailing personalizes each piece of furniture, giving Rawhide’s products a unique look and design to fit any space.
“It’s a different type of product than most of the things you see out there,” says Anthony Roseman, Owner of Rawhide International. “It has a lifetime warranty, so it’s not disposable furniture. If you want to buy a piece of furniture and keep it for the next 25 years, you’d be the type of customer we’d want to sell to.”
Rawhide started about 25 years ago. Roseman became involved in 2005, when the company was experiencing some financial problems before he stepped in to purchase it. Before then, he was in the metal fabrication industry, where he started a company that grew from six employees to 125 before he sold his shares and retired.
“Rawhide had the nucleus of a good company, it just had some financial problems, and it seemed to work with what I wanted to do,” Roseman says of his decision to buy Rawhide. “It’s manufacturing, it’s Canadian made – and here we are seven years later.”
While most manufacturers in Canada are chasing the low end of the market – manufacturing their products cheaper to compete with China – Rawhide’s goal is to aim higher, to set themselves apart by making a superior product. “The type of furniture that everybody’s chasing right now is disposable,” Roseman explains. “That type of product will probably last you two, three, or four years. Whereas the stuff we’re making, with hardwood frames and coil construction – that’s the way furniture was made fifty years ago. It’s built so it’s going to last.”
Additionally, Rawhide offers a full-line product. This means they will manufacture furniture to fit a person that is five feet tall, a person that is seven feet tall, or anybody in between. They can and will make the furniture deeper or shallower, shorter or longer – it all depends on who they are trying to fit it to. “It’s very much like when you go out to buy a suit or jacket,” Roseman says. “You want the sleeves to fit, which means you might need them altered, and that’s what we do with our furniture.”
“Customers don’t just walk in the door and point at a piece of furniture and say ‘I want it in brown,’” he continues. “That’s not what we do. We want to make sure that it works for you, and it fits, and you get the proper seating that you like. All of these things are very important to us, because 50 to 60 per cent of the people who work through the door are referrals. They’re people who are coming in because they’ve heard great things about Rawhide.”
That amount of repeat and referral business indicates the Rawhide approach works. “We still have that group of customers that have been purchasing from Rawhide over the last 25 years, and they continue to come back to buy for other rooms of their homes and bring their relatives,” Roseman explains.
As a business, Rawhide International is split into multiple divisions. They have a retail store, as well as a wholesale and contract division that services hotels and shopping malls. Additionally, they cater to the hospitality market – old age homes and healthcare facilities.
No matter what the division, however, Roseman says their customer service approach is consistent. “Our customer service is pretty simple,” he says. “You have just to service people better. That’s key. People want to know they’re being looked after.” For Rawhide, it does not matter if the customer is a shopping mall that bought multiple trailer loads of furniture, or simply an individual. “They just want to be looked after, and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be looked after.”
Between the retail store, the manufacturing facility and their office, Rawhide has a variety of employees. Since coming onboard in 2005, Roseman says the corporate culture is one of the main things he has changed. “I think it’s a lot better than what it was in the past.” Roseman has managed to keep hold of the people who worked for the previous company, and says morale is high. Since customer service is such a priority, he says it is important they have good people in place to provide that service.
That means for Rawhide, the challenge is not their people – it’s the economic climate. “We’re a small family-owned business, and everyday there’s something that throws a loop into the business,” Roseman says. “However, it seems the last eight or 10 quarters have seen our sales increase. We’re exploring new markets, we’re selling in the US a lot more than we did previously, and I think the message that Rawhide is getting out is that it’s a great product with great customer service, and nice people to deal with.”
Since entering the United States market, Rawhide has seen their business increase by roughly 125 per cent over the last four quarters. “A lot of people are looking for the types of products that we offer,” Roseman says.
Roseman also says that further development of the business comes down to an ongoing process of innovation, which means they always have to be looking for and experimenting with new leathers and fabrics. In that arena, the company receives a lot of valuable input from their retailers, who give them feedback on what the market trends are – and Rawhide continuously brings out new products to keep up with those trends.
At the moment, Rawhide is working out of a 40,000 sq-ft facility, and at about 40 per cent of their maximum production. Roseman predicts in four to five years that percentage will be closer to 80. He also predicts that they will raise their business to 12 to 15 million dollars in sales. “You just don’t know what’s around the corner,” he says. “We move forward all the time. We’re continuously bringing out new styles, and looking for new customer bases.”