Grund hits U.S. market running
By Cecile B. Corral -- Home Textiles Today, 4/29/2002 12:00:00 AM
NEW YORK —
After making a name for itself in Eastern Europe, Western Europe and the Middle East, Czechoslovakian bath rug manufacturer Grund is on a mission to become a major competitor in the U.S. home textiles market.
For the first time in its 11-year history, the company participated as an exhibitor in the New York Home Textiles Show here earlier this month in hopes of landing American partnerships at the supplier and retailer level.
"We think we have a good chance of making it here in the United States," Jiri Grund Jr., sales manager, told HTT.
The company's origins are homegrown — literally.
"After the revolution in Russia, my family wanted to buy a bath rug for our house and we couldn't find any at the stores," Grund Jr. said. "So my mother made one for us. And from there, she got the idea to start the company."
Grund's father, who spent his career working in the Czech linen and fabric industries, bought the yarn from a Czech carpet supplier, purchased some small table-tufting machines and then developed a special technology to create the table-tufted poly-acrylic synthetic bath rugs, which are all machine washable.
Today, the family-owned and -operated company produces 90 percent of the bath rugs offered in the Czech market as well as a healthy portion of bath rugs in Eastern and Western Europe and the Middle Eastern nations.
At its headquarters, situated in the small town of Mlade Buky, north of Prague, the company operates two factories and employs 200 workers. On average, the company produces 2 million bath rugs a year.
Today, Grund's annual sales are estimated at $15 million — more than double that of five years ago.
While bath rugs dominate the manufacturer's revenue, generating about 90 percent of the total, the company four years ago began partnering with bath towel and accessory suppliers to offer some bath coordinates.
Recognizing that the American market differs greatly from overseas, the company came up with 15 new designs with "simpler, softer colors and looks," Grund Jr. said. "In Europe our customers want more color contrast and more design in their bath rugs. But after doing some research we found that the American market prefers plainer looks and simpler colors."
Also, Grund is open to altering the construction of the backing of its rugs to better suit the American market's needs.
"Right now we use a latex-coated back," Grund Jr. said, "but we will make the rubber backing if Americans prefer it."
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