Expanding its product mix for the cold winters in the Northeast region, Offenbacher’s offers such items as fireplaces, hearth accessories, pool tables, game sets, bars, barstools, table tennis, foosball and indoor shuffleboard play fields to entertain people in their homes. “The neatest thing about our company is the diverse nature of what we carry year round,” he says.
President Karl Offenbacher started the firm in 1969 as a pool management company. “It evolved into a small retail shop that was selling outdoor furniture,” Ramos says. “Over time, it evolved to the diverse product mix that Offenbacher’s now represents.”
Today, Offenbacher’s employs a staff of approximately 50 employees and has eight retail locations in Maryland and Virginia. Ramos praises the company’s employees and the “can-do” attitude they take in serving its customers.
“It’s not about what you carry but how you serve the customer,” he says. “If somebody walks in and they want a patio set, a fireplace or a complete game room package, we can deliver it and we can install it from start to finish.”
This turnkey approach has allowed Offenbacher’s to survive the economic downturn, Ramos says. “We’re a one-stop shop under one roof,” he says. “Customers just love that.”
Selling the Best
Each year, Offenbacher’s adds new products to its lines. In 2010 and 2011, “We introduced outdoor island kitchens, pergolas, stone built outdoor fireplaces and fire pits,” Ramos says. “The selection of premium options have been a real hit with our customers. Every one wants something unique to them, with a little bit of our own custom designer in us. There are so many options to chose from, each customer feels as if they have designed their own outdoor wonderland.”
This year, the company added retractable awnings, as well a second line of kamado grills and smokers made by Saffire. These products are higher-end than those offered by some competitors, Ramos notes.
“What we have to do is select items that differentiate us from the big-box stores,” he says. “They may [carry products like these], but they’re carrying the lower grade. There’s a ‘good,’ ‘better’ and ‘best’ in everything you select.”
Offenbacher’s product vendors undergo a strict evaluation before its items are selected to be sold on the sales floor. “We like to carry products that give our customers the most advantages when it comes to value,” Ramos says.
These providers include Riverside, Calif.-based Jensen Leisure Furniture. “Offenbacher’s is proud to feature top-notch, high-quality products such as Jensen Leisure, made of the finest of Bolivian Ipe wood,” he says.
Ramos says Ipe is one of the most abundant species of timber from the Chiquitania Dry Forest of Bolivia. “Its rich chocolate-brown color, when new, gracefully transforms Ipe into a mature, elegant silver patina making it the wood furniture of choice to many of our discerning customers,” he says.
Another strong vendor is Olhausen Billiards, a Portland, Tenn.-based manufacturer that has earned a reputation as the best in billiards supplies. “For that very reason, we at Offenbacher’s are extremely proud to offer Olhausen as our ‘American Made’ lineup of pool tables and matching shuffleboard indoor play fields,” Ramos says.
“There’s something to be said about being made in America these days,” he continues. “With the economy being what it’s been during these last several years, buying and selling American-made products is something that isn’t as prominent as it should be.”
Although the majority of retail products continues to be manufactured overseas, “Offenbacher’s supports the American-made, American quality and the American job market as much as we possibly can,” Ramos declares.
Fighting the Battle
The Internet is an ongoing challenge for Offenbacher’s retail locations. “Customers are shopping more and more online these days,” Ramos says. “They’re finding out who has what, [and] how inexpensively they can get that into their home. We’re battling that quite a bit.”
The company’s retail locations have coped by implementing a price-matching policy.
“If a competitor has the exact same model we carry at a lower price, whether it be a brick and mortar store or valid Internet retailer, we will match that,” Ramos asserts. “People now come in and shop with confidence.”
He explains that Offenbacher’s uses its Web site and online retail store to complement its brick and mortar stores by advertising all the in-store specials on it, as well as Internet coupons redeemable only in its stores, directing customers to see, touch and feel the quality and comfort that it offers its customers.
In High Spirits
Ramos joined Offenbacher’s in September 1994, after owning an outdoor furniture business in South Florida. He notes that he has enjoyed Offenbacher’s environment, which strives to keep work fun.
“We try to keep spirits high,” he says. “We try to generate that energy so when customers walk in they will feel welcome. The culture at Offenbacher’s is based around enjoyment, pleasure and making a quality of life the best it can be.
“What’s more exciting than selling ‘fun?’” Ramos asks. “Everything that we sell has an element of pleasure and relaxation. In today’s world, everyone needs a little R&R. It’s easily conveyed by the atmosphere and product mix we offer to our customers.”
As a general manager, Ramos says he has strived to be both upbeat and encouraging. “All of the good things that are happening at our company are because of the employees,” he states, giving his store managers high praises.
“They create that atmosphere in the stores with our sales staff,” he says. “We want to pour as much [of that enthusiasm] as we can into them. That’s what [we] sustain through the company.”
He also praises the management of Karl Offenbacher. “He built this business from the ground up,” Ramos says. “He’s a visionary that sees things before they happen, and implements strategies that will ensure success moving forward.”
Another key ingredient to the success of Offenbacher’s is Vice President Alpana Offenbacher, who oversees all the technical IT areas and its advertising department. “Her attention to detail and her creative approach helps to make the behind the scenes of Offenbacher’s cutting edge,” Ramos asserts.
With its broad product mix and experienced staff, “I see rosy, great things [ahead],” Ramos continues. “We cover all the bases in outdoor and indoor entertainment and we see that our customers are very pro-Offenbacher’s. We see things to be very healthy and very good, moving forward.”