King size

Six months ago, P.M. Bedroom Gallery owners Arvid and Ben Huth cast their vision for the company on 55 gold-plated plaques and gave one to each of their employees. The vision statement, written by the Huth brothers, said the Greendale-based company is committed to becoming "the Harley-Davidson of the bedroom industry … the Goddess of the Midwest in bedroom furnishings."

Their goal is to grow P.M. Bedroom Gallery into a company with $100 million in annual revenue by 2015. The company, founded in 1993, currently has $12 million in annual revenue.

Arvid and Ben say they have a four-pronged attack to achieve their goal of eight-fold growth. Plans for a new 39,000 square-foot P.M. Bedroom Gallery store in Naperville, a suburb west of Chicago, are in the final stage before construction.

By Aug. 1, P.M. Bedroom Gallery will have a catalog, a reinvented Web site and new television and radio commercials.

"We need to grow at a pretty strong rate over the next 10 years to get there, but our direction in meeting the goal is to have stores with a larger selection and less stores per market," Arvid said. "We want P.M. Bedroom Gallery to be a destination store. We want anyone looking for a bedroom set to consider going to one of our larger stores because it has the selection, it has the styles and it has the unique refreshing looks that nobody else has."

Arvid said the new Web site and the addition of a catalog are intended to enable the company to reach a larger geographic region. The new commercials will focus more on the unique furniture than the story of the two brothers.

"It comes down to if someone is to walk through our store, we want to make such an impression on them that based on the selection and the vastness and the unique fresh looks, the style and the designs, we want that person to be our best advertising," Arvid said.

Building big box-type stores instead of the average 12,000 square-foot P.M. Bedroom Gallery store began last August, when the store at 8380 W. Layton Ave., Greenfield, reopened after doubling in size to 30,000 square feet. The store now displays more than 100 bedroom sets.

With the larger showroom, Arvid and Ben believe they can increase business and maintain their reputation of having the largest bedroom furniture selection in the area. In March, when the new store opens in Naperville, it will become the largest bedroom furniture store in the Chicago area, Arvid said.

P.M. Bedroom Gallery has two 12,000 square-foot showrooms in the greater Chicago area, located in Hoffman Estates and Lombard. Arvid said Naperville is a hotbed for furniture stores in the Chicago market. The new store there will be right in the midst of their competition.

"The growing area of Naperville drew us to the town, and it is kind of the furniture row of the Chicago market," Arvid said. "It is a huge shopping area, and anyone in the furniture industry in Chicago is in Naperville, and we’re a big believer in being next to our competitors, from the standpoint that they help us, we help them and it is good for the consumer. The consumer can come to Naperville and shop at five or six stores."

The new Web site, catalog and commercials are all part of Arvid and Ben’s strategy to expand their current geographic market. The Huths want people to be willing to drive up to an hour and a half to come to their stores, and the Web site and catalog will show people the value, selection and quality P.M. Bedroom Gallery offers.

"The TV and radio waves only reach so far out of Milwaukee," Arvid said. "If we want people from Appleton, Oshkosh, Fond du Lac, Green Bay and Madison, just considering the Milwaukee market, we have to give them a very good reason to come visit us. It is hard to portray what we are about in a 30-second TV commercial or a 60-second radio commercial."

Both the catalog and the Web site will feature pictures of top designs, the dimensions and prices of each piece and the choices in lumber, hardware and finish.

"The furniture is set to order," Ben said. "The builders make enough furniture for the showroom and when customers decide what they want, we order it from our factory."

P.M. Bedroom Gallery’s sets are handmade by craftsmen, many of whom are based in Wisconsin. With each set, the customer has a choice between three different lumbers – cherry, maple or oak. The customer then chooses from six different stains, and when the company rolls out its decorative hardware program, the customer will have 90 different hardware options.

"The customer likes the fact that they can personalize their bedroom set," Ben said. "They choose the design, and then they choose the lumber they want, the finish, the hardware. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the same bedroom set as what is popular at other stores, and the odds of someone picking the set to be exactly the way another customer picked it are really quite slim."

Arvid said the first catalog will feature 15 of the top-selling bedroom sets, but a 60-page catalog will be available by January.

The company’s TV commercials have focused on the brothers, but they will play small parts in the new campaign.

"For the last couple of years, our ads have featured us and our story, but we don’t feel the ads have made as big of an impression on the styles and selection that we offer," Arvid said. "We have a brand new set of TV and radio commercials that will come out Aug. 1, and they are really going to feature the selection and style and show a lot more of what we’re about from a design standpoint."

Arvid and Ben said they hope the new marketing direction the company is taking will have a chain reaction where consumers that hear the commercials will go to the Web site, order a catalog and make the trip to one of the showrooms.

Although franchising the stores is not something the brothers will consider, they would like to reach more consumers in the Midwest and the West coast by working with interior designers.

"Our long-term direction is to open more stores just like the Naperville store in Chicago, and then to hit the other big cities in the Midwest, like Kansas City, St. Louis, Quad-Cities, Indianapolis," Ben said.

The brothers have plans for Milwaukee, as well.

Arvid said P.M. Bedroom Gallery wants to build their next big-box store on the north side of Milwaukee, in the vicinity of Germantown or the north shore. He said the company is currently looking for land large enough for a 40,000 square-foot showroom with highway exposure either on the corridor of U.S. Highways 41 and 45 or along Interstate 43.

According to Arvid, the company is spending around $50,000 on the production of the new commercials, plus another $5,000 for the new Web site. The catalog will be produced in-house. When adding in the $5 million new Naperville store, the self-proclaimed conservative brothers are spending money to make money.

"New advertising, new catalog, new Web site, the Naperville store – we will double our business in the next 18 months," Ben said.

P.M. Bedroom Gallery

LOCATIONS: Office and distribution center at 6800 Industrial Loop, Greendale; and stores in Brookfield, Greenfield, Hoffman Estates, Ill., and Lombard, Ill. The company plans to build another store in Naperville, Ill., and is looking for a site to build a new 40,000 square-foot store north of Milwaukee.

OWNERS: Arvid and Benjamin Huth


PRODUCT: Handmade custom designed bedroom furniture



AWARDS: Ernst & Young 2004 Entrepreneur of the Year Award for consumer service/retail, SBA 2000 Young Entrepreneurs Award for Wisconsin

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Dr. Daniel A. Schroeder is President/CEO of Organization Development Consultants, Inc. (ODC). ODC serves regional and national clients from its offices in suburban Milwaukee. Additionally, he teaches in the Organizational Behavior and Leadership (bachelor’s) and Organization Development (master’s) programs at Edgewood College (Madison, WI), programs that he founded and for which he served as Program Director.

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