Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:42 pm
Many people haven’t heard of Kewaskum-based Regal Ware Inc., but many home cooks are very familiar with the company’s brands that are sold around the world. Regal Ware makes high-end stainless steel cookware – frying pans, double boilers, pasta pots and many other cooking vessels. The company also makes high-end cast aluminum cookware.
Regal Ware also makes the majority of the commercial coffee makers available in the United States and a line of water filters and distillation units for home use.
Most of Regal Ware’s products are sold through regional sales representatives who hold “parties” in their homes or friends’ homes. The hosts of the parties show the guests how the cookware can be used, and guests are able to purchase the products at the end of the evening, said Joe Swanson, senior vice president of operations for Regal Ware.
Regal Ware has 10 to 15 brands of stainless steel cookware.
“We differentiate in sizes and by the type of materials we use,” Swanson said. “They’re also differentiated by the handles, finishes and if there is a slab (of metal) on the bottom.”
Most of Regal Ware’s direct sales in the United States are stainless steel cookware. Its high-end cast aluminum cookware with non-stick interiors, is sold in the southwestern United States, Mexico and South America, Swanson said. The aluminum cookware is sold through direct sales channels, as well.
“We sell a lot of the high-end stainless steel product to the Hispanic market too,” he said.
Regal Ware does a smaller share of business in what it calls custom brands, in which the company is hired by another brand to manufacture cooking products for that customer. The customer typically handles sales of that product, either through retail, commercial or direct sales channels, Swanson said.
Regal Ware has about 8,500 people selling its products through direct sales channels.
Regal Ware was founded in 1945 by J.O. Reigle. The company is still family-owned, and is currently led by Jeff Reigle, a third-generation family member who serves as company president. A fourth generation member of the family is working at Regal Ware now, Swanson said.
Regal Ware has about 500 employees. About 130 work at the corporate headquarters and a small manufacturing facility in Kewaskum, and an additional 350 employees work at the main production facility in West Bend. An additional 30 employees work from a sales division in Arlington, Texas.
Regal Ware’s revenues were relatively flat in 2006, Swanson said. However, the company is planning on revenue growth of about 25 percent this year.
Two main growth areas are being targeted, Swanson said. The first is marketing its existing products to the health and wellness community.
Most of Regal Ware’s stainless cookware uses a waterless, low-temperature cooking style, Swanson said. Because the technique requires little water and cooking oil, the company thinks it will easily be marketable to health-conscious clients.
“With this, you can cook a healthy meal without boiling the heck out of everything,” Swanson said. “The lid and pot form a seal. It retains heat, and the steam stays inside (the pan).”
The company’s water distillation and filters also fit into the health and wellness category, and the firm is looking at several non-cooking products it may manufacture to further expand into the health and wellness area, he said.
To boost its efforts, Regal Ware is now looking to form relationships with organizations in the health and wellness community, such as the American Heart Association.
“We think there are a lot of opportunities out there,” Swanson said. “We’re not just limiting our scope to cookware. We’re looking at the different products we could make with the same materials and processes within the category.”
Regal Ware is also launching into a second strategy it believes will give it high growth potential – partnering with celebrity chefs to create signature lines of cookware.
“That’s a big part of our growth strategy,” Swanson said. “We’re looking at all (distribution methods) – direct marketing, direct TV sales and potentially placing them in some high-end stores.”
Last week, Regal Ware unveiled its first entry into the category, a set of cookware bearing the signature of Marcel Biro, chef-owner of Biro O, a restaurant in Sheboygan, host of his own cooking show on PBS and an international restaurant consultant. The Biro eight-piece retails for $299.99, and a stand-alone 12-inch skillet retails for $139.50.
The Biro line was introduced last week at the International Home and Housewares Show in Chicago.
Regal Ware is currently negotiating with other celebrity chefs, Swanson said, to expand its offerings.
The company is also working to expand its Salad Master line, which has had global growth in recent years, he said.
Although Regal Ware believes its strategies will pay off in revenue growth, the company does not think it will need to hire a large number of new employees to meet the increased demand for its products.
Instead, the company is now working on lean manufacturing initiatives to closely scrutinize its processes and practices, warehousing techniques and the way its facilities are laid out, Swanson said. Regal Ware’s lean manufacturing program was launched about one year ago, but it will be ramping up during 2007.
“We want to involve more people and accelerate our efforts,” Swanson said. “We’re starting to get lean with the customer – understanding their needs and wants up front.”