A Note From Kyle: 2018 Retrospective
Dear Valued Artists, Retailers, Colleagues and Friends,
What a year 2018 has turned out to be! In our third year in operation, we saw many significant changes in the industry and with our small company. It's remarkable how these major events and milestones build in such a short amount of time. When I look back at what this year has brought, I'm simply astonished that a small group of people were able to pull off so many great accomplishments! As always, I'm grateful for such a team and the community of Artist, Distributors and Retailers who help support all of our efforts
We welcomed a few new faces to the team this year, Caryl Schively has joined the team from Merriam-Webster as our Vice President of Finance and Administration and we're excited for the experience and professionalism she brings to the group! We added Arthur Barbas to the sales team this summer and Sam Gaskin to the Customer Service team to help support the growing business. Donna Bowers took over as Vice President of the Operations and Supply Chain, bringing her unyielding work ethic, expertise and dedication to the "blocking and tackling" of what we do.
Our warehouse got a complete overhaul during the summer, creating a more efficient use of the existing space and reducing picking times for our selectors here in Northampton. It seems like a simple thing, but to be here when all of the products are down from the shelves, getting ready to be put back into new locations - it takes an iron stomach and nerves of steal to witness that! We will close the year with fill rates averaging the high 90s for 2018, fulfilling a promise of best-in-class service levels to our customers against an industry average fill rate in the mid 80s.
We launched completely, our Art Education program with over 50 universities and art groups visited this year, spreading the word about our products and services to classrooms at major Universities across North America. We overhauled and increased our focus on the Art Ambassador program, adding new members for 2019 and putting a focus on developing our reach with influencers into some of the new product categories we've entered into such as hand-lettering and calligraphy as a result of the explosion of Ecoline into the market.
We launched our complete new merchandising program at the beginning of the year and shipped out over 1500 new displays out into the trade. Our brands now have harmony in terms of the way they are presented and the enriched content at the point of purchase has already helped artists and store associates come to know our brands even better.
We saw the beginnings of our product offering expansion into the craft channel, allowing more exposure of our products to regions which don't have a trusted Fine Art Retailer in the area.
To cap off the year, we are showcasing our new RoyalTalensNorthAmerica.com website, with improved layout and functionality to make the experience we're bringing you here even more engaging and visually pleasing.
2018 was a year of growth and change for us, as this small business grows (and grows up), since its inception, we are enthusiastic about what the future holds!
I hope all of you have a wonderful New Year, from our team to yours!
Kyle Richardson, Vice President, Royal Talens North America