Installers of Armstrong cabinets will have new brand names to look for starting today as the manufacturer unveils its rebranded collections Echelon Cabinetry and Advanta Cabinets.
In 2012, Armstrong World Industries, which also manufactures flooring and ceiling products, sold its Armstrong Cabinets division to American Industrial Partners (AIP), which took the brand private. Since then, AIP has changed to ACPI, and gave the Armstrong product line a thorough overhaul to create the new Echelon brand for homebuilders and remodelers, and the Advanta brand for multifamily and commercial projects.
"This was more than a brand launch for us internally," says Steve Stephens, vice president of marketing and business development. "The business was in a state that needed to be re-evaluated because the marketplace was changing. Knowing that, we engaged in a massive undertaking of reconnecting with what's important to customers, and which customers we should focus on."
A new executive team with experience inside and outside the industry conducted end-user and used the results to refine the legacy Armstrong product line. "The first thing we did was remove non-productive SKUs, which reduced the overall Armstrong product line by 30%, "Stephens says. "That gave us a more effective platform to build from. From there, we started to break the products apart into the two brands we new we were building: one multifamily commercial brand, Advanta, and then the Echelon brand for single-family builders and remodelers."
Removing unused SKUs helped improve production efficiencies. Other changes, such as moving to all-wood drawers increased materials costs on one end, but improved manufacturing though-put by increasing efficiency and reducing labor hours per cabinet. Paint, stain, and glaze options were also adjusted to create product lines best suited to their audiences.
New Design Tools
ACPI's market research included an interesting piece of data for remodeler: Of recent homebuyers and those in the market for a new home, 61% felt they would have made a different cabinetry decision if they could have better visualized their options. Knowing that, ACPI is complementing its new product launch with the new Echelon Cabinetry Visualizer, a web-based tool that will let homeowners experiment with their kitchen design and make more informed choices.
"The tool has some great features for a remodeler or a dealer," Stephens says. "You can choose from a variety of kitchen layouts and really mix and match products to see them coming together. Users can e-mail their selections back to the showroom before they even come in, which gives the designers time to focus more on elements like accessories and related products. The dealer still has an important role to play, but fundamentally it narrows down the choice, lets users see their options over and over again, and helps them become much more confident that they're able to visualize their selections."
New Brands, New Promises
ACPI is focused on brand awareness as they bring Echelon and Advanta to market. Backing the introduction of Advanta for the multifamily market is a "delivered on-time, 100% complete" promise. CEO Nick Billig says the brand has invested heavily in capital equipment and operations to "bring certainty to kitchen cabinet ordering." Single-family Echelon customers will also benefit from the on-time, in-full focus. Echelon has taken steps to ensure consistent lead times and 100% complete deliveries. Its product line-up features tiered good-better-best categories to simplify decision-making.
"ACPI is proud to launch this new phase of our business," Billig says, "capitalizing on six decades of experience and a lot of work to re-energize the mission to deliver a superior kitchen cabinet experience for our customers and their customers."