March 18/25, 2019: Volume 34, Issue 21
By Lindsay Baillie
SLCC Flooring may not be a household name—but that could change in the near future. This up-and-coming hard surface flooring manufacturer is looking to make its mark by focusing on uniquely designed, high-quality, betterend products.
Jan Luan, president, founded the company in 2010 in the U.S. utilizing factories she owned overseas. At the time, she completely built the company from the ground up—from design and marketing and creating a sales team to opening a distribution facility. Today, the company aims to expand into a globally recognized brand. In order to achieve its goals, the company will undergo several evolutions, the first of which will be a rebrand under the name Cèleste. The company will also continue to strengthen the relationships Luan helped to build within the industry, which remain the pillars of its success.
“Jan’s story has been incredible, and the reputation she has built over the last eight years on the West Coast has been remarkable,” said Chris Dillon, who was recently named vice president of sales and marketing for the company. “In my travels to California over the years, I would keep stumbling across her product line and people who knew her. Through a mutual friend, I had the opportunity to meet her in late 2017 at her headquarters. I knew back then that I wanted to work for her one day.”
It was Dillon who would eventually lead to the company’s next phase of its evolution—rebranding the company under the Cèleste name—a change meant to more effectually convey the type of higher-end products the company provides.
But how, exactly, does it do that? Dillon said he was first inspired by the word’s French meaning—heavenly. “I believe the term accurately describes our floors,” he explained. “It also meshes well with some of our other product lines. Our Milky Way collection has been around a few years and features several 4mm wear layer products that are also named after planets and other worldly themes. It seemed like a natural fit.”
When it comes to product design, the company manufacturers a “full gamut,” according to Dillon, including solid and engineered hardwoods, laminates and luxury WPC. It supplies products that range from 12mm laminates to the Cèleste- branded Villa engineered collection—a 7-foot-long x 9-inch- wide, reactive-stained product with a 4mm wear layer. These offerings will soon grow under the Cèleste name.
For example, of the company’s 120 SKUs, 48 hardwood flooring offerings as well as 10 new SKUs, which will be introduced in the next few months, will be under the Cèleste flooring brand. According to Dillon, these products are in the upper-middle to higher-end range and cover an array of contemporary and traditional looks. “Some SKUs, such as our black walnut, have a nano-technology finish that makes them nearly indestructible,” he stated. “It is scratch resistant, fire resistant and dent resistant—which sounds like an oxymoron for a walnut floor.”
When it comes to product development, the company doesn’t take shortcuts. “If we are going to enter a new category, we are going to do it with style and quality,” Dillion explained. “Take our laminates and WPC, for example. Our owner flies to Germany to have the film made instead of getting it near the factories in Asia because she believes in the quality of the paper in Germany. If you lay our products down next to hardwoods, you can’t tell the difference.”
As the company evolves, Dillon said it will continue to look to several factors of differentiation, starting with its unique product development strategy. “Cèleste Floors is not a ‘me-too’ product; it’s a product with flair that will not break most of our consumers’ banks,” he said. “To stand out, you really have to love what you do. While there are some products we have to source out, most of our products are coming from the factories we own, which allows us better control of color and quality.”
This control, according to Dillon, allows the company to develop new products and colors with an incredibly fast point of entry into the U.S. “At Surfaces, we tested some new colorations in our floors, and within five weeks after the show we were fully stocked with the new colors,” he said. “I thought Jan was playing a practical joke on me. We even had hundreds of sets of samples ready to roll.”
Several dealers currently partnering with the manufacturer value the company’s product visuals. Connie D’Angelo, vice president of sales, Designer Rugs & Carpet by Peyakar, Syosset, N.Y., for example, believes SLCC’s products are truly different from those currently in the industry. “I’m a designer showroom so SLCC’s products are much more conducive to my needs,” she explained. “They are wider boards, newer colors and the product itself is superior. When you have the winning combination of color, product and service, that is the key.”
D’Angelo recently put SLCC’s service to the test when a customer had an odd request. “My customer wanted gray,” she told FCNews. “Now gray is very difficult to accomplish because it’s either going to go brown, green or blue. SLCC’s European Oak Valance completely wowed my customer. She wanted to see it in a full box and so I asked SLCC if I could purchase a full box and if the customer didn’t want it if I could send it back. My sales rep and Chris said no problem, and the customer ended up keeping it.”
Other dealers attest to the company high service factor. Ian Newton, general manager of Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based Flooring 101, has sold SLCC products for approximately three years. “They were able to make products for us that we designed,” he explained. “We were able to pick the color and the width and type of product we wanted, and they made it for us.”
When it comes to service, accommodation, too, is key in today’s hard-knock retail world. “Chris and his team are just great people,” D’Angelo stated. “Our lives in this industry are crazy enough that when you deal with people who under- stand the stress and hustle and bustle, and help you navigate through it, it really does matter.”
Newton echoed D’Angelo’s sentiments. “They’ve been really easy to work with and the ownership with Jan has been phenomenal. She has been hands on with helping us pick products and really grow our assortment of what we sell from them.”
SLCC said dealers should expect even more from the company in the future. “We have a true business plan to get the company to the next level,” Dillion stated. “We currently have three warehouses in Los Angles, one in San Jose, Calif., and a new distribution center in Dallas. We have all the tools, the factories, the designers and the team to go to the next level.”