Commerce City, Colorado
Industry: Built Environment
Products: Restaurant furniture
Husband-and-wife co-owners Josh and Shelley Romig are focused on efficiency at their booming furniture manufacturer.
Originally founded by Phil Sedita, the company had changed its name by the time it hired Josh away from his countertop business in 2016. The Romigs bought the company and revived the Sedita brand in September 2017.
"We felt there was definitely potential here," says Josh, in part to less competition. "A lot of people who are doing this are retiring."
As the Sedita name has 40 years behind it, the Romigs saw an opportunity "to take the ball and run with it," he says. They bought the company and made a six-figure investment in new equipment. Shelley continues to work in the insurance industry and Josh handles day-to-day operations.
"Restaurant booths and tables are our bread and butter," says Shelley. Sedita also manufactures custom cabinets, reception tables, hostess stands, and other pieces of furniture. Customers include such chains as Old Chicago, Tokyo Joe's, and Corner Bakery Cafe and single-location clients like Larkspur in Vail and the Pepsi Center and Shanahan's Steakhouse in Denver.
The company, which essentially saw sales drop to zero in 2015 after Phil retired, has come back strong. After hitting $780,000 in 2016, revenue grew more than 60 percent to $1.3 million in 2017. "Really, it was just getting the name back out there," says Josh. Customers "were chomping at the bit to come back."
For Josh, the clientele and many processes were similar to his days installing countertops. "The biggest learning curve was on the upholstery side," he says.
One big change: Sedita started outsourcing CNC work on its seat backs and other parts to outside shops. "Every single part comes in pre-made," says Josh. "We're doing more volume than Sedita ever did with five or six less employees."
The Romigs have also catalyzed sales by working with local construction companies and architects focused on the restaurant market.
The emphasis is on quality furniture, not commodity product. The most inexpensive booth might make it only five years, while Sedita's can last two or three times that long. "New guys will come into the restaurant business and want the cheapest thing possible," says Josh. "They grow and they learn that the cheapest product is not always the best."
The Romigs say they can tell when they go out to eat that it's a Sedita product. Says Shelley, "We sit down and say, 'Sedita did these.' The quality is still there."
Challenges: "Hiring, like any other company, is difficult," says Josh. "The upholstery side is especially hard to find. . . . It's a dying art. We'll run an ad for a month and get two applications." His solution is "hiring green guys and training them."
Once onboard, Sedita's employees tend to stick around: "Most of them have been here for 20 years," says Shelley.
There are other challenges. "Controlling our growth will be a substantial problem if we don't grow into ourselves or grow too fast," says Josh.
Shelley recites her mantras: "Grow responsibly. Don't sell too much, but sell enough."
Opportunities: As 80 percent of sales are going to Colorado customers, the Romigs are angling to expand to Florida and Texas. "We're looking more nationwide," says Josh. "Getting more people on our sales force in other states is a good idea."
Retirement communities are another potential sales driver, says Josh. "They're going more high-end, with restaurants built right into them," he says.
As Sedita's prices are typically about 20 percent higher than the bargain manufacturers, Josh sees room in the market for "an economy line" that would ship in two weeks instead of the usual four to eight.
Needs: "I think space will be a big one in coming year," says Josh. "Within two to three years, we'll be looking for 30,000 square feet instead of the 14,000 square feet we're currently in." Sedita currently leases space from the previous ownership; the Romigs aim to buy the existing facility and expand on the same site or build elsewhere.