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Chromcraft Revington.

In the years following World War II, Carroll and White counties were important centers for furniture manufacturing. Small companies in Camden, Delphi, Flora and Idaville produced inexpensive, practical pieces to furnish the homes of returning GIs.

Rising costs, decreasing supplies of native hardwoods and increasing foreign competition eventually forced most of those companies out of business. By the early 1980s only one remained: Delphi's Peters-Revington Co.

Founded in 1946 by Tom Peters and George Revington, the company originally produced various occasional tables in contemporary, traditional and country styles.

By the early '80s, inexpensive imports began eroding Peters-Revington's share of this market. "Importers took 40 percent of the occasional-table market in a matter of three years," says Mike Thomas, a North Judson native and Purdue-trained engineer who became company president in 1981. "As we looked at our business, the only way we were going to stay in business was to become a low-cost producer. We decided we were not going to import any product, but do everything domestically."

Accepting the reality that the imports were here to stay, Thomas and his staff looked into new, complementary markets. "In 1983 we decided to become an occasional-furniture manufacturer, rather than an occasional-table manufacturer," he explains. "Our first entry into other occasionals was wall systems. We took our one, two or three best-selling table groups and matched a wall with it."

Furniture dealers welcomed the concept, and sales took off, Thomas says. During the next eight years, Peters-Revington gradually added similar matching series of entertainment centers and library units. A line of curio cabinets was introduced in 1991, and customer demand was so strong that an 18,000-square-foot addition was built to accommodate production.

Last year Peters-Revington and Chromcraft Corp., a Mississippi manufacturer of casual dining furniture, merged and launched an initial public offering for the new Delphi-based Chromcraft Revington Inc. at $11 per share. Traded on NASDAQ under the symbol "CROM," the stock recently hit $20 per share.

Thomas is now president and CEO of the new corporation, which totaled $119 million in sales last year. He foresees enormous potential under the new corporate structure, which maintains the Chromcraft and Peters-Revington operations as separate entities. "Now that we've become public, we have capital to grow the business, both internally and through acquisitions," he says.

Despite the new corporate structure, Thomas wants to keep the corporate entity separate from the Chromcraft and Peters-Revington operations. "We want to keep the corporate staff very lean," he explains. "We feel like the corporate staff is overhead and it doesn't add a lot to operations."

Chromcraft and Peters-Revington will benefit from each other's strengths, and Thomas anticipates cross-selling opportunities. Traditional independent furniture retailers are--and will continue to be--the backbone of Chromcraft's and Peters-Revington's business. However, Chromcraft successfully markets its products to such mass merchandisers as J.C. Penney Co., and that's an area Thomas wants to pursue further.

At the same time, Peters-Revington is making china cabinets for its sister company. "They buy them from us, then they resell them to their distribution," Thomas says.

In the meantime, Thomas is looking at new opportunities to enhance the Delphi operation, which currently employs 400 workers. In late June the company purchased $700,000 in new equipment, and additional capital expenditures are expected.
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Title Annotation:offfice furniture designer
Author:Samuelson, Dave
Publication:Indiana Business Magazine
Article Type:Company Profile
Date:Sep 1, 1993
Previous Article:North-central Indiana update.
Next Article:Vera Bradley Designs.

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