Gastonia, N.C.-based Rowley Company is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2012; and while some companies in the decorating supplies industry have struggled, Rowley continues to experience growth and market expansion, even in a challenging economy.
History: solutions from the Cape
New England-based businessman R.H. Rowley moved to Atlanta in 1962 and bought a small drapery workroom and installation business. By the early 1970s the business had expanded to 11 workroom tables. Rowley moved back to Cape Cod, Mass., and began installing draperies and selling decorative hardware, eventually supplying throughout the region. The national growth began with Rowley’s creation of the T-handle, a solution for casement window cranks that prohibited blinds and draperies from hanging correctly. Customer reaction to this product line and several other unique problem-solvers spurred national growth.
Today: growth in Gastonia
Rowley searched for a more central location and a better business and weather climate for his company and moved it to Gastonia in 1984. The corporate offices are now in the original warehouse. Since 1982, the product line has expanded from several dozen unique items to more than 4,000 items to aid workrooms, designers, installers, upholsterers, fabricators and commercial supply businesses. Operations have expanded from one warehouse to seven. The Rowley family is still involved in the company, but a new management team, led by CEO Bill Taylor, took over in 2007. “Our focus remains on providing the best customer experience in the industry,” said Taylor. “We value our customers’ input and feedback and have enacted many changes to improve our service level.”
The future: serving the DIY customer
In early 2012, Rowley launched RowleyDIY.com, expanding its educational and product offerings to the do-it-yourself sewing enthusiast. RowleyDIY.com features products and projects for creating unique window treatments, pillows, upholstery, bedding and much more. DIY customers visiting the new website can shop for items by product or project, watch how-to videos, download free project guides and read blogs on the latest DIY trends.
To further the growth of the company, in both the professional and DIY markets, Rowley is investing significant time in a quality management program based on ISO 9001-2008 standards that will improve operational consistency and customer interaction. “We strive to provide an unparalleled customer experience,” said Taylor. “Beginning with the customer’s initial phone call, to the expediency with which we ship orders, to the quality of the products we supply, everything that Rowley does will be consistent and support our goal of providing an outstanding experience for our customers.”