Company tells dealers it will service them directly through its new in-house customer service department
Louisville, KY — In a letter sent to customers this week (Jan. 11), case goods and accessories supplier Hillsdale Furniture said it had terminated virtually all of its independent sales representatives.
While the exact number of affected reps was not known, sources estimate that the overall independent rep network was in excess of 30. The company did not respond to Home News Now’s requests for comment by press time.
Doug Devine, Hillsdale’s chief revenue officer, told retailers in the letter that there were multiple reasons why they would now be served directly by the company’s new in-house customer service department led by Kyle Warden.
Devine said that as the market continues to evolve and becomes “increasingly more competitive,” the company felt it imperative to forge even closer relations with customers to ensure they received the best possible service to support their growth.
While crediting Hillsdale’s independent reps with being “nothing but professional” and acknowledging that “we could not have achieved the success we did without them,” Devine said the company wants its sales team to devote and dedicate 100% of their time to serving customers, something he said was “not feasible” from a rep who carried multiple lines.
However, Devine added that “for strategic reasons, in select markets only, the territory managers will continue to work alongside a very limited number of independent reps.”
A few of the reps impacted told Home News Now that their dismissals came with no warning.
“The news came out of the blue,” said one former Hillside rep, adding, “but I guess this is what can happen when private equity is calling the shots.”
On Jan. 24, 2013, private equity firm Brookside Equity Partners acquired furniture company Hillsdale Furniture from Clearview Capital and Ironbridge Capital.
Devine also used the letter to alert customers to a series of investments in technology, training and support the company made during the past 18 months.
Citing specifics, Devine mentioned the recent opening of the Hillsdale Design Center in its High Point showroom, where it onboarded a new director of design and director of merchandising.
The letter also stated that Hillsdale has added two new vice presidents: Chip Vanderford for the West and Jason Neal for the East.
In addition, the company has created three territory manager positions that are managed by Ryan Smith (Northeast), Kimber Smith (Southeast) and Kelly Hand (Plains).
Devine also confirmed that the company’s customer service team is now using the newly launched Hillsdale Sales Portal which he says will provide customers with greater self-service through order placement, locating invoices, checking product availability and running reports.