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Opinions Wanted Larson Juhl no longer a Crescent distributor...?

Discussion in 'Picture Framing Business Issues' started by KPF, Feb 8, 2013.

  1. Verdaccio

    Verdaccio MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Effect of this business decision on smaller framing shops:

    Most suppliers today have a minimum order level of $100 that you need to reach in order to avoid a delivery and sometimes a fuel fee.

    Larson no longer carrying Crescent means that I have now started to compare the companies of frame and mat and (where possible) NOT put crescent mats with Larson frames.

    I have noted now that I often have to place orders from both my suppliers in order to fill my whole order - making it harder thereby to reach the $100 minimum with both and subjecting me to a possible weekly additional cost of $10 to $20.

    Thus, I am now -only- ordering one time per week rather than ordering two times if I could get to the $100 minimum, and I am now actively selecting frames for customers based on the brand of mat we selected and more often than not selecting Larson out.

    I have ordered more Omega frames for my wall and have pulled some Larson samples to make room for them.

    In effect, the disagreement between Larson and Crescent could cost their customers up to $1,000 extra in delivery fees every year, and (at least in my case) is costing Larson some amount of my business.

    I admit my shop and my business is fairly tiny to Larson...but I wonder how many frame shops just like me there are in the country and how this will add up to affect Larson's business, delivery schedules, etc.
  2. Grey Owl

    Grey Owl SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Great smaller frame shops probably watch their costs much closer. Good job of analysis. I also have added more Omega, and am taking down many of another supplier.
  3. tedh

    tedh PFG, Picture Framing God

    I'm doing the reverse: tossing Crescent and buying more BB and Artique. Increases my orders to way past the minimum for LJ. Crescent loses, and the other three win.
  4. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I did not throw out Crescent mats, as there are many Crescent mats that I love.

    I have 2 suppliers with the $100 delivery rule, one is LJ. If I sell a Crescent mat on a job, I will order my Bainbridge mat from the other supplier as well. So in that case, LJ loses that business.

    However, if I know I am ordering from LJ, I will try not to sell a Crescent mat on a job.

    In my opinion; both LJ and Crescent are losing with this decision. It might even out in the end, I don't know. I even don't care. They made a decision for their businesses, just like I make decisions for my own business.

    I will continue to do business with both of them as I think both companies are good companies to work with.
  5. Jeff Ferguson

    Jeff Ferguson Grumbler in Training

    Thanks for the Interesting Read

    Thanks to all posters for an intriguing 16 pages of reading. I check the GRUMBLE every few years, but never considered posting, since I never wanted any posts to be construed as "self serving" in any fashion. But, given that I find posts by some Crescent and LJ folks in this thread, I'll intuit that manufacturers can post and not necessarily be accused of disingenuous motives.

    In Larson's defense, I would offer that our market signals certainly confirm LJ's contention that Crescent was (direct) selling other customers at better prices than they were probably giving LJ. In the 12 years we've been in business, we've seen nothing but pricing erosion at the wholesale level, and it's not us or other small entities that are causing it -- our costs rise but our price points are forced by larger players, at least in the bulk sales arena. Also, matboard color diversity most certainly follows the 80/20 rule -- with LJ being so large, they necessarily can suffer serious cash flow impairment from insufficient inventory turns on the 80% of colors that probably aren't turning even once per year. Warren Buffett pays his managers to be smart and to best deploy their cash; thus the reality of that 80% problem would force any responsible manager to want to drop the dead movers. This is a major conflict with Crescent's "Full-Line Distributor" requirement that their entire line be stocked; in fact, we've always understood that when Crescent releases new colors, those new colors are automatically "pushed" onto their distributors. An interesting question is whether Crescent buys back unsold inventory from their distributors on colors they discontinue?

    The Omega/Canada distributorship of the Crescent line may cause channel contention given that (I believe) Peterboro has a pretty tight relationship with Omega; I should stop there.

    Good luck to all; this will be an interesting end-game for two very large players in the industry.
  6. William Ross

    William Ross CGF, Certified Grumble Framer

    As I see the subject.

    First-- What is a "full-line distributor? If a vendor does not want to carry the full line, then all they have to say is that they are not a full-line distributor. If Larson - Juhl does not want to carry the full line, then just tell the framers they are not full- line distributors. They now tell us that not all their products are in all locations. That would have solved the problem of not stocking the complete line. Larson does this all the time by removing dead stock from their inventory.

    As for the new colors-- Crescent or any other company only introduces new product if the framing customer ask for new colors. The reason we go to Trade Shows is see new products and old friends and I'm sure other shops do the same.

    As for the statement --"Do they buy back old inventory?" I racks of moulding that our vendors have removed from their line and not once have they ever offered to have me sent it back for new stock. I know your answer--"You purchased the goods" because I though it would sell and that is why any business purchases inventory. As a vendor-Larson --knew months ahead that items were being introduced and removed and could adjust their purchases and stock. The real difference is that Larson can sell the matboard at cost to people using "flaw boards" in their CMC and recover cost. As a framer we can't always recover our cost.

    Why would Crescent not give their best price (cost) to someone with a line that competes with their products. As a framer who cuts mats for other frame shops--"Why would I give them my best price?", when I'm doing all the work. I know you might say --"Without them you would not have had the order", but I would answer neither would they--because they could not cut the mat. Like Crescent --we need the small customers who are there every day. Crescent needs their vendor network and can not only serve the large vendors.

    I hope framers support Crescent for looking out for the framer's interest. My customers come to us because we offer a large selection of products. Forty eight years ago when we started the selection in matboards was either smooth/or ruff--white, cream or black and if you needed another color you painted it to match the artwork. I like new colors.
  7. tedh

    tedh PFG, Picture Framing God

    Well, here we are. Nine months after Larson divorced Crescent, and all's good. No Crescent rep, Omega rep or anyone else has been around to resurrect the line, and I haven't missed Crescent one bit. Peterboro, BB and Artique seem to be all I need.

    How's everyone else doing out there? Any signs of life at Crescent? Have I missed anything?
  8. RParrish

    RParrish PFG, Picture Framing God

    I carry every mat board line, I still order a lot of Crescent, that has hurt sales with LJ but helped other vendors. I wish they would make up.
  9. Tommy P

    Tommy P MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    What Randy said.

    The whole mess makes weekly ordering a bit more of a challenge. LJ is losing more than my Crescent business. Bainbridge, glass, etc. is often being ordered from others just so I can get a needed Crescent mat or two on delivery.

    I don't like it. But it is what it is...............

    Be interesting to know what it's really doing to LJ's bottom line.
  10. Ylva

    Ylva SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I'm with Randy and Tommy

    I have been ordering more Crescent mats. First of all, my sales rep (and I only deal with him by email, haven't met him yet) is very responsive and sends me new samples when required.
    There are a whole lot of very nice fabric and textured mats that I do use a lot. (I simply LOVE the new ones and have used it before I even put the new samples away)

    So yes, I think, just for my little small shop, it is hurting LJ more than it is Crescent, since I now sometimes order my Bainbridge and metal chops elsewhere to meet the order limit and all my glass is now ordered elsewhere as well. It also means that there is a slight shift to using moulding from the other vendor.
  11. pwalters

    pwalters SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Nov/Dec 2012 LJ was 79% of my overall framing category purchases. Nov/Dec(mtd) 2013 LJ is 56%. My sales are up 14% for the period. Why the difference? I love Crescent mats and had to bring in another vendor to provide them. In order to meet order minimums I move foam, glass, other mats, supplies, etc to the other guy. Whatever the beef was about (let's assume $$), I'm sure it's hurting both of them but I don't believe it is impacting them equally. IMO LJ had more to lose. But we'll see.
  12. Larry Peterson

    Larry Peterson PFG, Picture Framing God

    The majority of the mats I use are the Crescent Select sports team colors. I looked at Bainbridge and others to see if they could do the same but their choices weren't as good. I offer the colors for every NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL teams as well as most colleges. Here are the NFL colors:


    Although I didn't want to, I had to find a supplier that carried Crescent. I like LJ but Don Mar now has most of my biz.
  13. Joe B

    Joe B SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    I haven't missed LJ not being the distributor of Crescent and I do use Artique because I like the quality. I use mainly Crescent, especially their Rags, and have a reliable supplier for the Crescent line. Bainbridge, Petersboro & Artique are also good lines but Crescent has the best color selections so I generally go there first. Luckily I can get all of the mat lines locally and have them delivered or I can pick up if need be.
  14. Janis

    Janis CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    I use a lot of Crescent mats and another vendor is now getting the vast majority of my orders, and the amount of $$$'s spent with Larson since the divorce from Crescent has declined considerably.
  15. MitchelC

    MitchelC MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    Larson deserves it... they were always more expensive than most other dealers. AND... because they consider my business "home-based", they refused to deliver to me. I dropped them a few months after the quit selling Crescent Matboards. So, LJ.... i wish you bad luck in the coming years. ☺
  16. tedh

    tedh PFG, Picture Framing God

    Not me. Larson has been the most supportive of my business over the past 14 years. Impeccable reps with integrity, eager to see me succeed, good specials, quality products that outsell the others, and a credit department that's been patient when the cash flow has been bad. We're partners.
  17. Grey Owl

    Grey Owl SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    Great. That is what you want with a business partner.
  18. Bob Doyle

    Bob Doyle SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God

    I am sorry to hear that this saga continues. Those of you that have seen you LJ numbers drop (I do not sell enough LJ to be a "partner") has it hurt your prices with LJ? I do not know how LJ bases the pries they charge you, but I was under the impression that the more of their product you sell the lower prices they charge you.

    Since one of you said that your framing is up and your LJ numbers are down 20% is LJ threatening to raise your prices?

    Please I am not LJ bashing, just sincerely curious if they would "penalize" you for their dropping a preferred mat maker. If I was one of their customers/partners I think I would have found a way to keep track of my crescent mat orders then approached LJ rep and said "look, are the mat numbers you have lost the commission on, can you please talk to your bosses" either the rep has to demand the "lost wages" from LJ or be happy with the lost income that LJ's ecision has cost him/her. Were I a rep I know I would be interested in knowing the figures I have lost for each and every customer of mine. And that information from you customers would be incentive enough for your reps to work on your behalf.

    They get "figures" for each customer. They get "talked to" for decreased revenue. In essence they are being "blamed" for you not keeping your order numbers up, some may have lost some good XMas bonuses. If the rep finds out that your LJ numbers dropped from 70+% of your framing orders to 50+% solely on the fact that it was Crescent mats, the rep will be highly motivated to 1) earn that money back and 2) not take the blame for decreased "numbers".

    If you have those numbers available get them to your LJ rep. Also bring those numbers to your other distributor and see if giving that distributor all your Bainbridge and Peterboro mats would get you into a better pricing structure. This game has been set in motion for you, either play it to your advantage or take the hit on your bottom line. Almost makes me wish I had done more business with LJ so I could try to finagle a better price :) Your LJ reps are right now learning about the hit that the your decreased numbers are going to have on their XMas bonus. They deserve to know that that hit is directly related to the Crescent "fiasco".

    Were I was a rep I would want that ammunition in my back pocket so that when my boss "talked" to me about decreased numbers I could have something to "fight" back with, instead of being forced to take the blame and the personal financial hit. The reps may not have really cared when the news first came down the pipeline, but right now at XMas they sure will. It is bonus season and their numbers must dictate the level of added compensation they are banking on for the year.
  19. Gilder

    Gilder MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    LJ is loosing my business. First they closed the warehouse in Cincinnati and Cleveland is like another planet, to far, to big and totally not flexible. Second of course bad business with Crescent and I use their mats a lot, that means another vendor gets the order. On the top of it LJ prices are too high. In 3 years since I bought the shop they reverse me from being their fan to the opposite, the rep is really nice but everything else is awful.
  20. Tommy P

    Tommy P MGF, Master Grumble Framer

    First off, the afore mentioned rep is super fantastic in my book. He, and LJ, take care of us like no one else. Any issue is fixed pronto. Hassle free compared to any other distributor. Pricing is fair. I was home based for the first few years. No LJ. When I decided to put my big boy pants on and go brick and mortar then LJ approached me. Has been a good marriage. And I have discussed this Crescent/LJ fiasco many times with him.

    Bob is correct in his thoughts. And rest assured Bob, the reps and LJ are well aware of WTF is going on! From my understanding there is a lot of blame to go around for this unnecessary issue. Two people basically got into a giant pi**ing match and one just picked up their ball and went home! (Kinda like Congress now that I think about it.)

    Bad for the industry. But a boon to some distributors.

    And whom do I ultimately blame for all this carp?

    Mr. Buffet himself.

    What would I like for Christmas?

    An end to the gridlock. (but I don't see it happening)

    Just MHO.

    Merry Christmas friends...
  21. Keith L Hewitt

    Keith L Hewitt SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer

    The gridlock will never change whilst the 2 CEO's are still running the 2 companies
    You cant blame Warren Buffet for this! He wouldn't even know the spat was going on.
    It's a no brainer - 2 huge egos clashed. One will probably have moved on soon - just look at his CV - about 9 jobs since leaving college around 2002, the other owns the biz and wont take carp from anyone. ;)
  22. shayla

    shayla WOW Framer

    I like LJ for frames, but only order Artique mats from them. For Bainbridge and
    Crescent, which I love and use equally, I use smaller regional suppliers.
  23. Riverwood

    Riverwood CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    I am guessing that some time in 2014 we will see LJ and Crescent back together.
  24. shayla

    shayla WOW Framer

    Thanks. Now my head is singing 'Frankie & Johnny Were Lovers'. :icon21:

    Even though I had to wait a year and a half for a new rag sample set, I still love Crescent.
    Okay, so I don't love those soft, shreddy 1150's but everything else I do. I wish they'd
    bring out a couple of their old papermat finishes in conservation versions. Not at work
    right now, but my memory says #'s 4130, 4136, and whatever the black & blue version
    in that line was. Loved those, but I didn't love the 'paper mat' aspect of them.
  25. Janis

    Janis CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level 2

    Sadly, not all of us can say that.
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