Transportation industry upholsterers do their homework
If you run a successful business, you’re probably looking outside your office walls for consumer trends and industry innovations. We asked fabric manufacturers and upholsterers involved in interiors for the transportation market how they accomplish this important task. Here’s what some of them had to say:
Jason Estes, director of sales for fabric manufacturer Tapis Corp. of Armonk, N.Y., says company executives meet with designers and industry leaders and attend trade shows to identify consumer trends and industry innovations.
Sidney Locke, director of strategic marketing and communication for Sage Automotive Interiors of Greenville, S.C., says, “We constantly search consumer products—apparel to furniture to electronics—to understand lifestyles and emerging trends. We fully update our research every two to three years. From these studies, we gather insights that help us design our fabrics. One of the trends that emerged recently is integrating lighting accents into multiple parts of the interior.
“We stay heavily engaged in research regarding process and construction capabilities, as well as functionality,” Locke adds. “Academic research is an important part of our approach to innovation.”
Nancy Citti, president of Bergen Upholstery in Teterboro, N.J., attends transit-industry conferences and conventions to stay informed on marketplace trends. When it comes to what is new in fabric, though, she says her vendors come to her. Then, she says, “We send photos to customers and ask what they think.”
“My business is pretty much driven by customer desires when they come in,” says Chuck Lueck, owner of The Recovery Room in Panama City Beach, Fla. However, he notes that he reads about the markets and stays up to date with news from Industrial Fabrics Association International and Marine Fabricators Association.
“We study the latest trends in high-end automobiles, yachts, technology and even fashion,” says Ron Larabie, president of JetSet Interiors in Dallas, Texas.
“Wherever the high-end market is going, we follow suit and create new product lines, like our premium Signature Series seating, that keeps people excited. After all, flying isn’t just a mode of transportation for our customers. It’s an experience.”