November 26/December 3, 2018: Volume 34, Issue 12
By Steven Feldman
It’s been 10 years since DuChâteau pioneered that wide-plank, long-length, oil-finished hardwood flooring that remains so popular today. If it’s true what they say about imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, then co-owner Mitch Tagle must feel like the belle of the ball. I recently caught up with Tagle, and after a few beers and glasses of wine we got to talking about how DuChâteau has not only evolved but also provides value to the flooring retailer.
With a reputation built on a high-end product portfolio featuring European oak, Tagle believes DuChâteau has evolved from a wood flooring supplier into a lifestyle company rooted in fashion and design. He defines lifestyle as the entire look and feel of the room. It’s about bringing life and energy to a home. It’s about participating in a way of life. It’s not just providing a floor—it’s the look, the feel, the energy, the emotion that it brings to the space.
Truth be told, DuChâteau has been forced to evolve, given the plethora of companies that have capitalized on that European oil-finished visual, and in many instances offering product at much lower price points than the original. The response to this point has been innovative looks and styles. “We create; they copy,” Tagle told me. “People are always looking at what we are doing.”
As the publisher of this magazine, I am always interested in ways a company can help retailers make money. I asked Tagle. He first cited the branding: It’s upper end, sounds nice, the gold shields. However, he also believes the company offers retailers something special—something unique and interesting. The word he used was “prestige.” That transcends to its San Diego headquarters with a look and feel that epitomizes the DuChâteau product offering. If you can discern the difference between a Kia and Mercedes dealership, then this is the Bentley of flooring nerve centers.
Another way DuChâteau is helping retailers is through its website. Rather than offering a dealer locator, the consumer is connected to one of 40 DuChâteau representatives located throughout the U.S. who act as a pseudo personal shopper. That rep will eventually guide her to the appropriate dealer, where they meet. That retailer now has a strong chance of getting the sale because someone is now bringing a qualified consumer to his doorstep predisposed to purchasing a DuChâteau floor.
DuChâteau is also somewhat unique in how it has handled the tariff situation to this point. Rather than raising prices 10% in response to the first wave of tariffs—as most others have—DuChâteau has actually cut prices. How? Why? Tagle cited the strategic alliance it has with its suppliers. It has been able to source product at a better price point and in doing so pass those savings to the retailer and consumer.
While DuChâteau products remain at the higher end of the spectrum, today a portion of its portfolio is a little bit more affordable to the masses, or “affordable luxury” as Tagle calls it. How does that happen? “We look at exactly the type of product our competitors are selling and at what price point. Then we ask ourselves what we can do to get us within those ranges and provide product that is superior within that price point.”
DuChâteau also branched out into resilient with a unique twist. Given it has some of the best wood visuals on the market, DuChâteau took those high-end designs and replicated them in LVT. Tagle noted how many companies actually buy designs from the same film houses even though they’re manufacturing in different factories around the world. DuChâteau created its own print films from its hardwood offerings, and then those print films are turned into the canisters that actually create the requisite embossing.
Then there’s the wall covering business, where Tagle claims DuChâteau was the first company to mass market 3-D types of designs on the wall with dedicated displays and marketing to wood flooring retailers. The company is now starting to play with other materials, such as acrylic, stone and metals with plans to venture into new materials.
Tagle admits DuChâteau floors might not be for everyone, but in a world permeated by a sea of sameness, the company gives retailers a story to tell and ways to make money.