"BAUSCHER, HEPP, TAFELSTERN and WMF: A collaboration that brings together four illustrious names in the field of quality tabletop. Bauscher USA, Inc. and WMF Americas, Inc. have agreed to a sales and marketing cooperation for the USA, starting May 1, 2012. The alliance will focus on hotel, casino, restaurant, private club, and healthcare clients. During the remainder of 2012, all aspects of sales, marketing, and customer service will be harmonized to ensure a high level customer experience. Programs with key accounts and dealers will be streamlined."
Well, we’re now 3 months down the road since the original announcement and TabletopJournal caught up with Bauscher USA President Jeffrey Heaney recently to ask him how things have gone.
TJ: In early May, you and Markus Glueck (President, WMF-Americas) announced that Bauscher USA and WMF/Hepp would combine U.S. marketing efforts. Can you update us on how this has gone so far and what we can expect in the future from this partnership?
JH: Integrating four brands into a single organization is a very complex task. Fortunately, our shareholders are strong, professional companies with the resources required to properly execute this plan. Through this cooperation, we will offer a complete tabletop solution focused on the quality segment of the market. All aspects of sales, marketing, and customer service will be unified elevating the service we offer our clients and our presence in the market. Our goal will be to delight those who are concerned with every detail in regards to their customer experiences rather than chasing the mass markets.
JH: Overall, the market has responded favorably. In fact, the overall reaction has been that this is an obvious marriage between four great German brands known as the specialist in their respective categories. Partnerships between these brands are common globally, so this is not that unusual. What is unusual is that all four brands are coming together rather than just one porcelain brand and one cutlery brand. The integration is progressing well and should be completed by years end.
TJ: What are the benefits that customers are seeing now that the Bauscher, Tafelstern, WMF, and Hepp brands are being marketed under a single umbrella?
JH: At Bauscher USA, our top priority is to make doing business with us easier for our clients. As we go through the transition, we are taking the same approach as we develop the new programs and product selection. One example of that is applying our “freight included program” for our select authorized dealers. All orders – no minimums.
TJ: All four brands are known for their quality and creativity….what new products should we expect to be seeing from these brands in the coming months?
JH: On the porcelain side, since we self-produce, we are continuously investing in new product development. This fall, we have a new buffet range that addresses today’s needs for buffets. During my near six year tenure, we have introduced more than ten new collections and have expanded upon many existing collections of porcelain. Our clients should continue to expect new, innovative solutions able to serve rising trends in the market.
On the cutlery side we have several new patterns that expand upon our extensive offering. For WMF, we are introducing an attractive decanter for operators serving filtered water at a cost to their guests. The decanter provides an elevated level of service that a client would anticipate if they are to be charged for filtered water. A continuous flow of new service ware with a retail-image, but commercial quality is being introduced.
JH: Consolidation will likely continue out of necessity. The complexities and cost of serving markets such as the USA require significant sales volume and the right people to manage the business. My perception is that there is a polarization in the tabletop marketplace. The large companies that can serve all segments are getting larger and stronger. While there may be just as many brands as before, many brands are in name only lacking real sales power into the market. It will be very difficult to remain a small or medium sized tabletop company in this market. The challenge for us is to remain a specialist rather than being a generalist. We accept that challenge!
JH: Deep Plate was a personal project of mine that I actively managed for the first two years. We are now in our fourth year. We are very proud of Deep Plate and view it as a way to give back to our industry. Many of our participants are students or chefs rising in the culinary ranks. I personally have enjoyed following the Deep Plate participants whose plate presentations have visibly improved month after month. It is also exciting to see that the blog has followers from around the world. We have followers from 176 countries. Ten years ago, this type of communication and reach was not possible. Deep Plate’s success has been difficult to quantify. Has it increased our brand awareness at a relatively low cost? Most definitely. It has resulted in sales. However, we took a position from day one that we would not solicit business from Deep Plate as we felt it might alienate participants. If they contact us to buy, we are happy to serve them.
JH: I love older country music - 70’s, 80’s, & early 90’s. Classic rock is often in the mix as well. I get enough of the Katy Perry and Rihanna when I am around my children, so when I can select the music, I prefer Merle Haggard, Willie, Waylon or the like. For some reason, I have also really been enjoying 80’s pop music – something that I didn’t particularly listen to in the 80’s.