The company was founded in 2003 in a room above a garage by three Americans and two Swiss entrepreneurs. The goal was simple: bring contemporary European inspired products to the North American market. Kevin Creedon, VP Sales for Element Designs, says, “We realized the possibility that comes with combining the best of both worlds: American craftsmanship, world class customer service and short lead times together with Swiss quality and precision. We added a healthy dose of entrepreneurship and a refusal to quit, and you get the formula for Element Designs.”
Over a decade has passed since Element Designs was created, but the company has maintained success. It is a leader among custom manufacturer architectural casework components in North America. Right now, Creedon is optimistic about the company’s outlook. He says contemporary design trends have gained a foothold in the market and look to remain popular in residential and commercial interiors. Creedon says a main goal moving forward will be stay ahead of design trends and be among the first to introduce new and innovative solutions for customers.
Nevertheless, Element Designs is not immune to the challenges of the manufacturing industry. “One of the biggest challenges we see is the pricing pressure being put on our distribution partners by competitors or foreign companies who offer inferior quality products at a lower price. It becomes difficult to negotiate when you’re dealing with apples and oranges and our distributors are on the front line of those discussions,” says Creedon.
For Element Designs, the tough work involves taking those challenges and turning them into opportunities by educating potential customers about quality service and products the company offers. Creedon adds, “There is a real cost to inferior products and service and it usually isn’t factored into a buying decision, but it needs to be. That’s where our distributors can really shine.”
According to Creedon, the distribution channel also saw challenges in the form of hesitation and general uncertainty at the end of 2016. The ripple effects of that business environment had impacts on projects in the commercial sector in particular. “Projects can only be delayed for so long before the need becomes urgent. Now we are seeing an increase in demand for products used in a multitude of commercial projects,” said Creedon.
As far as current market conditions, Element Designs is seeing a growing interest in their aluminum, glass, and acrylic products. Creedon notes that aluminum frame glass doors are especially popular, and style preferences are leaning towards larger doors, transparent glass, and metal finishes.
Creedon says, “The demand for back painted glass in a wide variety of commercial and residential applications is growing fast. We also see more interest in sliding door solutions as living areas are becoming smaller and space is getting more valuable.”
Ten years of success in the cabinetry manufacturing industry does not happen by accident or without help from other professional organizations. Distributors are vital partners for manufacturers, and the best distribution partners value the traditional and modern aspects of the distributor/manufacturer relationship.
“First, they believe in the importance of providing an excellent customer experience. Providing the best customer experience is central to who Element Designs is as a company, and it is when we are working together that we can provide superior products together with superior service that today’s customers demand,” says Creedon. “Second, they truly embrace technology. Our leading distributors realize the importance of and continually promote our new online ordering program to their purchasing teams and customers alike.
Finally, Creedon says Element Designs sees value in an educated specification representative sales force. He added, “They reach a market segment that is so valuable, yet really takes time to cultivate and inform. Distributors who invest in specification representatives get more significant project opportunities than those who do not.”
Still, Element Designs believes relations between distributors and manufacturers remains healthy. The company relies on its distribution partners to be an extension of itself. This close partnership allows Element Designs to provide excellent service to customers, which would be difficult without professional distributors to work with.
Looking ahead, Creedon predicts distribution will take an “omni channel” business approach as technology continues to play a larger role in business models. Customers growing more comfortable with buying products online will also play a part in spurring this change.
The North American Building Material Distribution Association (NBMDA) has also played an integral role in Element Designs success. Creedon says of the association, “It is a valuable industry resource that has given us the opportunity to review and discuss high level goals and objectives with our customers’ key decision-makers.”
Element Designs has been a member of the NBMDA for over a decade now and would like to see the association continue its efforts to educate members about new issues and trends that emerge in the industry. Creedon says, “The more informed we are collectively, the more successful we will all be together.”