Cross-Generational Sales: Phil and Franklin Miller Team Up to Tell a High-End Story at Thayer Coggin



HIGH POINT – Thayer Coggin’s story is a family story from a North Carolina upholstery manufacturer founded in 1953 to one with international ties.

Now led by the founder’s daughter, Royale Coggin Wiggin and launched into the social media realm by iconic designs created by Milo Baughman and Wiggin’s father, Thayer Coggin’s business has always been intergenerational, a legacy that continues in 2022 with Phil and Franklin Miller, the vice president of marketing and regional sales manager respectively.

Furniture today: How would you characterize the latest High Point Market? Busy? Back to normal? Enthusiastic? Optimistic?

Phil: We had a very strong turnout from our existing customers as well as a large number of potential new retailers and design companies. The mood was positive. The conversations focused on the facts about the challenges of high inflation and rising mortgage rates that have become significant headwinds for the economy.

At the same time, there was a strong overall optimistic view of the future and enthusiasm for substantial continued growth in demand for our premium brand of Classic Modern Design.

franklin: I would certainly characterize this market as completely back to normal. However, we were lucky that even the last markets were still very busy for us. This is a testament to our great designs and the incredible work that Guy Hill, our Design Director, does to put together an amazing showroom in every market.

We also have the best accounts in our industry and appreciate that even though they were operating on a reduced schedule, they were always willing to come to our showroom just outside of downtown to see us.

In addition to existing accounts, we have hosted a few large tour groups and our showrooms attract groups of designers to view our full range. Thayer Coggin is known for a few things, quality design and engineering, exquisite craftsmanship and incredible comfort. The last part is always an eye-opening experience for them. We often joke and say that Milo understood ergonomics before it was a thing, and it really comes to life when our products are first experienced.

FT: Have you seen the top 100 retailers, boutiques, designers or all of the above in this market?

Phil: All the foregoing. Thayer Coggin is marketed and marketed through a comprehensive North American network of top retail stores, boutique studios and trade showrooms across the country.

franklin: We had a combination of the three. We are fortunate to have the best accounts in the industry from a retail, showroom and design perspective. On top of that, we have many new people from all three segments coming to see and experience our products in each market, so we always meet a wide range of customers.

FT: What is one thing you would change at the market level?

Phil: To schedule our April market dates to avoid conflicts and overlaps with the Milan Fair.

franklin: I would like to see more emphasis on true original design and products made in the USA. The furniture industry is obviously a counterfeit industry, and if a product or style is trending for one manufacturer, there will surely be multiple iterations of all the competitors in the next market.

While some designers are much more inspired by others and lack the imagination to create their own original designs, it would be great to really showcase those who have the foresight to create genuine original designs. This could be done through rewards as well as social media.

The other piece is to draw attention to companies that still manufacture products in the United States and support an entire ecosystem of suppliers, customers, and employees producing high-quality products that haven’t sold to go abroad. Supporting local has been a huge move in the global economy over the past few years across so many other industries, and furniture should be no different, especially considering the history of our industry and its relationship to North Carolina and more specifically High Point.

FT: What do you think is an invaluable thing about the markets?

Phil: The most valuable and important aspect of the market is having the opportunity for face-to-face personal collaborative interaction with our customers, who are not only our customers but also our good friends.

franklin: See people face to face, show them our showroom and our full range of products. Seeing their reaction to fabrics, finishes and designs is something that can only truly be experienced in person. Whether it’s social media, zoom calls, or website traffic, there’s a measure to what the internet can deliver, as it’s been on full display during the pandemic.

Having a market twice a year and allowing our customers to experience the full range in one place and learn about new products as well as refresh on other pieces they may not have on their soil is invaluable and irreplaceable.

FT: Thinking about the furniture industry as a whole, what do you think will be a “must have” product for the millennial and Gen Z consumer when it comes to is it to furnish a house?

Phil: Millennials and Gen Zers want to know the history and reputation of the company that produces the furniture they are considering for their homes. I believe they respect the original design, precise engineering, construction using the highest quality raw materials and crafted by very talented people who take tremendous pride in crafting great furniture. This certainly defines furniture made by Thayer Coggin.

franklin: For me, its functional design and history. Whichever piece is, how does it fit into your personal design aesthetic? Is it functional? Does it add and complete the space? Then, where does the piece come from and where is it made, does it have a history, and are these elements in line with your personal ethos?

It’s on the minds of our generation for so many products, and furniture will follow. Sustainability, local support and knowledge of the values ​​of a particular product and company are top of mind for younger generations.

FT: What does your company do well to tell its story to an omnichannel audience (digital/social/print)? How do you plan to improve in 2023 and beyond?

Phil: We have a mixed strategy highlighted by the information found on our website, with a focus on social networks on the Instagram platform and the development of a look book print. For 2023, we will expand our video content and digital content for our various channels.

franklin: I may be biased, but we have the best story and the best story in the industry, and it’s definitely meant for a Hollywood script. It’s easier to tell when you can take someone through the factory and the showroom, but harder to fit into digestible, bite-sized chunks on social media or print. This is something we are looking to explore and develop further as we continue to build awareness of our brand through social media and a deeper company profile.

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