In this newsletter we speak to Simon Barnett, founder of successful WA retailer and wholesaler Foam Sales.
Tell me about your company?
I established Foam Sales in 1986 after identifying a gap in the market for cut-to-size cushions and flexible foams. The business eventually expanded to service building and construction industries, while also maintaining the personal touch with our loyal small business and retail customers.
Foam Sales employs eight staff, plus contractors, across two locations, and ships products nationally. We import our own range of foam insulation boards, amongst other products. We continually strive to lead the field in offering the most innovative foam products and manufactured solutions.
What are your values and philosophy of the company?
Our tagline is “Innovative Foam Solutions”, and this really sums up our approach. We are always searching out new products and working with suppliers to improve existing ones. Our customer service is focused on providing solutions tailored to each customer’s individual needs – one size does not fit all!
We believe in good, old-fashioned customer service, which is why our staff are friendly, knowledgeable, and routinely deliver the best foam solution for the best price.
Who are your main types of clients?
Our clients vary from families wanting a custom daybed for the poolside, to medical facilities and large construction firms.
Customers can choose from our stock range of foam products in the showroom, or sit with one of our team to nut out their custom order. Increasingly, both our retail and wholesale clients are opting to make enquiries and purchases via our website.
Wholesale clients can create an online account with us, from which they can check our wholesale pricing as well as place and manage all their orders.
What are the key ingredients to the company’s success?
Having experienced, knowledgeable and competent staff, who focus on meeting customer needs, is our main priority. Without a doubt, this is what has kept customers coming back throughout recessions, market dips, and the GFC. We are on first name basis with many customers who have been coming to us for ten, twenty, even thirty years.
We pay attention to market fluctuations and changing trends. At the outset, our business was primarily in open-cell foam for cushions and bedding. Over time, closed-cell foams became increasingly popular, and demand for high volume polystyrene supply also increased considerably. Our challenge has been to stay a step ahead at all times by developing supplier relationships, managing accounts to better anticipate client needs, and analysing local and international market trends.
What makes you different from your competitors?
The sheer breadth of our offering is a major point of difference. Under the one roof, you can get yoga mats, mattresses, custom-cut boat cushions, insulation boards and most any product that incorporates ‘foam’. We are also very proud of our staff, who have that combination of efficiency, friendliness and knowledge that is so hard to come by!
Have you seen any changes in the market since you first started the company?
Constantly and increasingly. Many, if not most, products and foam-related services come into vogue, only to be replaced by new products, trends or technology. Websites and online marketing are now much more critical than they were in the past. No one had a website when we started in the foam business. Now, online sales and enquiries are a huge part of our business.
I understand you recently updated your showroom. Why the change?
We’ve been in the same premises for thirty years, during which time we’ve had a few updates. However, we were very much due for a refit! The new look showroom is less cluttered and much easier to navigate. We have made more space for clients to workshop custom cushion and fabric orders with our team. A new office at the back of the store allows our administrative team to monitor both the retail shop floor and the workroom area.
How have Joyce/Polystyrene Industries helped support your success?
We have been delighted by the service we receive from both companies. Nothing is too much trouble for either the management or the staff at Joyce Foam and PI.
Local offices provide personal service and turnaround times from order are always excellent. We could not ask for more from either of our local suppliers, or from the Sydney office staff. All are a credit to their company.
If you had to point to one area of success, what would that be?
Turning more attention to our online presence and business systems has transformed the way we do business at Foam Sales. It’s exciting to be using new technologies to streamline our processes and to connect with new audiences. We’re looking forward to what the rest of 2017 brings on this front!
Visit the Foam Sales website at www.foamsales.com.au
Here’s the new Foam Sales showroom: