Bruce Birnbach aims to bring sharper focus to Omnia Leather

As chief strategy officer, the industry veteran seeks to build on the success of the domestic upholstery brand

CHINO, Calif. — When industry veteran Bruce Birnbach took on the role of chief strategy officer of Omnia Leather earlier this year, he saw an opportunity to join a company he described as a diamond in the rough, with good people, quality products and an intense focus on the needs of its customers.

But he also saw an opportunity to further refine and simplify the line in a way that created efficiencies for its customers and the manufacturing capabilities of its 200,000-square-foot plant here that employs some 250 workers.

Bruce Birnbach

“What’s made the company so amazing over time is that they have done anything their customers have asked them to do, and that’s why they are loved by their customers,” he told Home News Now. “But because of that, it has forced us to grow in all sorts of different directions. … So we added this or we added that and there’s a plethora of SKUs that exist that don’t necessarily need to exist.”

Thus, Birnbach’s role is to help the company regain a focus that has resulted in a refinement and simplification of the brand “so we can again be better at everything we do.”

When he came to the company in mid-January, he brought with him nearly 45 years of industry experience that dates back to his first job as vice president of merchandising and marketing at Rowe Furniture, where he worked for just over 25 years, including as president for nearly half of that period. He then went to American Leather as president in 2006, a role he held for six years before becoming president and later chief executive officer of American Leather Holdings.

His first task when he joined Omnia Leather was to listen and learn about the company, which he described as having “all the bones that remind me honestly of when I got to American Leather 15 years ago. They just maybe aren’t telling their story the way they should. And I think if they just simplify and refine, there is a great opportunity for the company to spread its wings so to speak. The opportunity presented to them will be amazing.”

Birnbach’s next task was to help the company achieve this vision, which buyers caught a glimpse of this past April High Point Market. He said the changes ranged from a simplified SKU identity and a simplified price list to more simplified schematics and more refined photography.

The Maxine Super Studio sofa by Omnia Leather is shown with two accent chairs in Aloe fabric.

“It was greeted with overwhelming enthusiasm,” he said, noting that all the new materials will be available for dealers starting July 1. “Simpler is better for so many reasons.”

None of this changes the overall identity or quality of the upper-middle-priced, made-to-order line, roughly 60% of which is stationary and 40% motion, with 85% in leather compared with 15% in fabric.

“They make a great quality product and use the European upholstery method — not everyone does that,” Birnbach said. “Which means you get a really nice look to the product, very similar to where I came from in the past.”

In addition to the various refinements that have been made thus far, he said that the company will continue to improve its designs and its speed to market, while also doing a better job telling its story, which is part of his role at the company.

“I think we need to present a little more perspective of who we are, and that is one of the things I am helping them define, in addition to helping them build an organization that will be sustainable for the future.”

With its special-order capability that can produce in any configuration possible, Birnbach believes the brand continues to offer tremendous value to retailers and designers alike. But with some 95% of its sales to brick-and-mortar dealers, a key is to make the line easy for retailers to understand and purchase. That also means making things easier from a manufacturing standpoint to help improve its speed to market.

“The opportunity for us is to get faster, get leaner and more focused and be better at everything we do,” Birnbach said. “I think manufacturing will be efficient just because the line will narrow down. We will be doing more of what we do, but the goal is to be better for the customer and have more clarity of offerings and what the brand stands for. We have tried to simplify the line to try and make it the easiest to work at retail. I think we have accomplished that and are laying the foundation for us to continue to grow on top of that.”

Thomas Russell

Home News Now Editor-in-Chief Thomas Russell has covered the furniture industry for 25 years at various daily and weekly consumer and trade publications. He can be reached at and at 336-508-4616.

View all posts by Thomas Russell →

2 thoughts on “Bruce Birnbach aims to bring sharper focus to Omnia Leather

  1. Whatever Bruce Birnbach gets involved with turns into gold. He really gets it when it comes to better quality furniture and design. Besides he’s a great leader and a pleasure to work with.

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