Royalty Carpet Mills: All in the family

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When industry icon Mike Derderian passed away a few months ago, Royalty Carpet Mills lost the only leader it had ever known. But his successor—his daughter, Andrea Greenleaf—had been running PacifiCrest, its commercial division, for the past 20 years. With the dynamic Greenleaf now at the helm, Royalty becomes the only female-owned and led carpet mill in the U.S. FCNews publisher and editorial director Steven Feldman recently sat down with Greenleaf to discuss the company in general and her plans for the future.

Royalty is the only U.S. carpet mill owned and led by a female. Is this a big deal or not? Are there advantages in that?

It’s really not a big deal in and of itself, but it is important because most carpet is purchased by women. So, bringing in a woman’s perspective, not only in the development of the product but also the look means the whole perspective of Royalty will be different. Is that a good thing? Only time will tell.

Talk about the health of Royalty Carpet Mills today.

From a financial standpoint, Royalty has always been healthy. We are and always have been virtually debt free, so we are in a healthy place. Will I be spending money going forward? You bet.

Let’s talk a little bit about the direction of the company. What are some of your short- and long-term goals?

The reality is that Royalty has been somewhat dormant for the last few years. Short term we want to make sure everyone in the industry knows Royalty is back; we will be stronger than ever and a major player in the market. Long term, let’s just see how far this company can go.

Is there anything you plan to do differently than your father?

Dad and I had a lot of similar of ideas; we just approached things differently. I will take a much more aggressive position with regard to new product introductions. Because I’m a woman, I’m looking at things a little differently. I want to bring more fashion and design sense into the products. So it will be a different feel. We will take the best of the old—our quality and service, for example– and combine it with some new ideas and philosophies.

Are there any specific changes you would like to implement in the near future and short term?

Other than the rebranding, it’s new management and new products. I have hired a new vice president of sales and marketing, Jeff Hudson, who worked for Royalty at one time. He has expertise in carpet manufacturing and in retail.

Talk a little about the rebranding initiative.

The rebranding just evolved. We looked at the new product introductions. Sales managers were bringing out deckboards, and our things just looked so dated. We needed a new look; we needed more contemporary styling. Everything needs to look new and fresh so people can see Royalty is fresh. Our hallmarks have always been great service, quality and West Coast design. That won’t change, but now we will go forward with a more contemporary look. How the Royalty and Camelot brands present themselves to customers is what needs to be freshened. I think as time goes on, everything about Royalty and Camelot will have a renewed look. There are already new logos for Royalty and Camelot, and we are updating the look of the website.

How do you differentiate the Royalty and Camelot brands?

Camelot is the higher-end product line, while Royalty specializes in the mid- to high-end customers.

As a California mill, Royalty’s geographic strength has not surprisingly always been on the West Coast. Will that change?

I think for the first 12 months the focus will remain on the West Coast—everything from Texas to California. While I definitely think there is an opportunity for Royalty to go east, I don’t see that happening for the first year.

In what areas do you feel the company needs to do a better job?

I think we can always do a better job of listening to what the customers want and need. I would like to see us become better partners with our customers—become partners in the future of our company and theirs. It’s in everyone’s best interest for Royalty and the smaller mills to stay in business. We need to be here.

Is Royalty’s extremely close alignment with Invista a plus or minus?

Royalty has always been a type 6,6 house. While we have a good relationship with Invista, we have an equally good relationship with Ascend. I would never put all my eggs in one basket. Our new products will reflect a great deal of both Ascend and Invista fiber. They both will get business from us.

Why the preference for type 6,6?

I think type 6,6 provides our customers with a better product all around—greater cleanability and superior performance. There is some concern in California about caprolactum and type 6, but we’ll keep an open mind.

What are your thoughts on the whole soft fiber craze?

Well, it’s definitely what consumers want right now. So I will be offering some very soft fibers. I think the jury is still out on how they will perform in the long run. But soft is the craze, and we will provide what our customers want.

Do you think it will be hard to adjust your efforts from the commercial side to residential?

I obviously have a lot to learn about the residential side. Luckily for me, the entire team has been helpful on bringing me up to speed on some things. And outside customers have been offering guidance. I don’t think the transition will be as hard as I anticipated, because I’ve gotten a lot of insight from people within and outside the company. At the end of the day, it’s all carpet, all fashion and color. I’m excited about it.

Royalty has traditionally been less marketing driven than other carpet mills. What is your philosophy on marketing initiatives?

I think marketing will be important going forward. We will be starting out with a more limited, more targeted marketing push. I think it’s important to keep Royalty’s name out there these next 12 months. People have been asking what happened to Royalty; the answer is nothing. The American dream is alive and well in Irvine.

Do you plan to keep the company in the family?

Absolutely. Royalty needs to be here. Competition is healthy. We have no intention of selling the company. It was started by the family and I intend to keep it that way. Royalty is not for sale.

How would you like Royalty to be perceived in the marketplace?

We know who we are, and I’d like our customers to view us as a company people can go to for quality, service and great product at a fair price. Royalty will take care of its customers. We want to be viewed as a partner; not just some large carpet mill. I want customers to consider us the best place to call for their carpet needs.

What keeps you up at night?

Can I get everything done fast enough to make me happy? I think Royalty has been sluggish for the past few years, so I’m trying to make up for lost time. I know it will all get done; I just want it to get done faster. I’m not a dawdler.

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