Doug Hinger knows showrooms. For 10 years as the vice president of operations for Drees Co., Hinger was at the forefront of sourcing, supplying, and developing product mixes for clients purchasing the upwards of 3,000 homes the Fort Mitchell, Ky.–based production builder builds annually, and even designed several 7,000- and 8,000-square-foot design centers for Drees buyers to use. Since becoming president of Cincinnati semi-custom builder Great Traditions in 2003, Hinger has gotten even closer to customers expecting a high degree of customization, and has turned to Cincinnati-based Nisbet Brower and the pro dealer's brand-new, 10,000-square-foot showroom to help his firm close about 40 units that will generate approximately $20 million in 2005 revenue. "The showroom is one of the primary reasons we are using Nisbet Brower," Hinger says. "It has outstanding capabilities for a builder involved in high-amenity homes. It's functional, it's presentable, and it plays directly to Nisbet Brower's strengths."
The team at Nisbet Brower couldn't have hoped for better builder compliments when it began planning the showroom at the beginning of 2003 as a way to reach out to custom, production, and remodeling contractors by displaying the four-unit pro dealer's growing lines of kitchen and bath products, windows, doors, trim, millwork, and interior and exterior building materials. "Everyone is growing, and acquisitions over the years have brought us more into the kitchen-and-bath market, more into the millwork market," says Nisbet Brower president Mark Rippe. "We're really a full-line company selling almost everything, so we needed to design a showroom based on that [all-inclusive business model]."
Implementing a one-stop selection center strategy for its range of contractors, Nisbet Brower has eschewed the specialty trend of focusing on limited or primary product areas, instead embracing a 75-line-wide facility that includes kitchen and bath, home office, and home entertainment displays; windows; interior and exterior doors; siding; interior and exterior trim; skylights; cabinets; locksets; hardware; stairs, railings, and balusters; closet systems; countertops; bathtubs; shower surrounds; patio and decking; and even screened porches.
To orchestrate the display of their products in an orderly yet upscale atmosphere, Nisbet Brower teamed up with Cincinnati-based Fisher Design–a retail consultancy that works with Fortune 500 companies on product display and package design–to design a facility that would enable contractors and their clients to walk the showroom floor from one end to another and select up to 90 percent of their products for the home, Rippe says. "We don't do plumbing, electrical, or ceramic tile, but as far as the building of the rest of the house, it's there," he says. "One contractor even said we should be shot for the breadth of product selection. Obviously he was being facetious, but we did come within reach of going overboard."
For all of the seemingly unlimited product categories and lines to choose from, Nisbet Brower's showroom nonetheless remains uncluttered and high-end in its approach to product display, a strategy that Rippe says was achieved by leveraging ideas from Fisher combined with visiting showrooms across the country–including Orleans, Mass.–based Mid-Cape Home Centers and a Merillat showroom in Las Vegas–to glean best practices.
Stand-out areas of the showroom include a circular pull-out door section that maximizes space while allowing for the individual display of more than 60 interior and exterior doors, an astounding 37 kitchen and bath vignettes, and spinner displays for cabinet door fronts that take the lazy Susan to the next level. Each of the seven spinners holds up to 18 cabinet doors, and the system is stationed just opposite a cabinet hardware display for easy pairing of doors with hinges and pulls.
Two miniature homes in the showroom display doors, windows, siding, trim, and decking in an installed setting that also includes a screened-in porch. A four-sided staircase display showcases stairs, railings, and balusters, and there is an entire wall of take-home interior molding samples and a range of the lumber options–from knotty pine to red cedar–that the pro dealer's wood trim products are available in.