[ INSIDE HAWAII INC. ]
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Servco's appliance distribution accounts for about 5 percent of the company's business, and Craig Washofsky is the guy in charge of its wholesale showroom in Mapunapuna. Above, Washofsky on Wednesday showed off one of the showroom's two live kitchen displays.
It's a whole new show for Washofsky
The Servco exec runs the company's new wholesale showroom for kitchen appliances
Question: How big is Servco's appliance distribution business?
Answer: It's probably 5 percent of Servco's overall business. The market has been strong recently with construction so we've had some good years.
» Job: A group vice president at Servco Pacific Inc., Washofsky is responsible for Servco's newly renovated and expanded Home & Appliance Showroom in Mapunapuna. With the company since 1998, he also oversees Servco's appliance and electronics distribution, Servco Raynor overhead doors and the Education Works school-supplies store. "And I sweep up pretty well too," he said.
» Other interests: He is vice president of Temple Emanu-El, and a past president and current vice president of government relations for the Aloha Chapter of the National Kitchen and Bath Association.
How competitive is it?
A: Consumers have an awful lot of opportunities to see the latest in appliances in town, and with our new showroom in town, there's an awful lot more to see. Appliances are getting more sophisticated and consumers are getting more sophisticated, and it wasn't satisfying for them to make appliance selections out of catalogs. They want to see it. Or see someone cook on it. They want to hear it. We have the quietest dishwasher made in the U.S., but you couldn't hear it. Now you can hear it run, or try to hear it run, I guess it should say.
Q: Does the showroom make actual sales?
A: We don't sell anything at the showroom. The showroom is a wholesale showroom. The consumer is welcome to come in and make their selections. Typically, an architect or designer or contractor sends the customer in or brings the customer in with them. The contractor will come in and help them make their choice or more often my staff will. We supply appliances to Home Depot and Sears and that sort of thing. We treat Home Depot as a customer, just as we treat anyone else as a customer.
Q: How much did the renovation cost?
A: We're a private company and we can't disclose that. Like most renovations, it cost more and took longer than we thought it would. We had a space that was used as both a combination of offices: There were cubicle-style desks coupled with free-standing appliances. A fridge would just be sitting out. And there were manufactured supply displays, and the offices took half the space. Of 7,000 square feet, the old showroom was 3,200 square feet. We moved the offices out and carved out another place in the building for them. Servco originally moved into this space in summer of 1996.
Q: What are some hot kitchen trends?
A: There's style and then there's function or how it cooks. In the style category, stainless steel continues to spread. Five years ago, maybe a little longer than that, stainless was in the extreme high end of kitchen appliances and white was the predominant color. And today you walk through our showroom, you can count the number of white appliances on one hand. Stainless or stainless-looking product can be found in the middle level or entry level.
From a function standpoint, we're seeing three trends. One is energy efficiency. Hawaii is one of the few states that does not reward consumers who purchase Energy Star appliances. Because we pay so much for electricity here, consumers are aware of the difference between energy-star and non-energy-star appliances.
Another trend is a demand for quieter appliances. Hawaii kitchens tend to be open but they may not be too large.
The third thing that people are looking at is speed and we've got technology in cooking and cleaning where speed is needed. I've got an oven that will cook eight times faster than a standard oven. We've got dishwashers from Bosch that have a party cycle. You can serve salads, have the rest of your meal and the salad dishes will be ready for dessert.
Q: Why doesn't Hawaii reward Energy Star appliances?
A: When I talked to Hawaiian Electric, they said they get much more bang for their buck out of solar-water heating. While an Energy Star product will save the consumer and the energy company reduced demand, what they tell me is changing to a solar water heater is a much bigger return. And since solar is so available in Hawaii compared to the mainland, that's where they chose to put their resources.
Q: Last word?
A: The other thing I would mention about the showroom is it spans a gamut. We've got high-end product on display but ... we cover a really broad price spectrum of product here.
And the other thing we've done that I think is unique is we have a conference room that is designed for contractors and designers to meet with their clients. We had somebody in today who had granite samples and cabinet samples with them.
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