As one of the winners of Ernst & Young’s ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR PACIFIC REGION program, Jim Moore submitted himself to intense scrutiny by a top accounting firm and hard-nosed panel of judges, and came out on top. He was deemed a winner in the "Turnaround" category.
Jim Moore is the President and CEO of Stork Craft Manufacturing. To some, the formidable challenge of steering Stork Craft Manufacturing out of the ditch in 2002 may have appeared to be a worthless battle. Unable to compete with Asian imports, the domestic manufacturer of infant and juvenile furniture was facing skyrocketing overhead costs and significant losses, losing more than $1 million a year. But Jim Moore eyed an opportunity. Foregoing early retirement, the entrepreneur was so confident in his ability to turn things around that when he joined as president and CEO, he also invested significantly in the business.“My expertise involves taking a company and starting all over again,” he says. “With the state of the world economy, it became clear that businesses just can’t manufacture in Canada anymore because of the high labour costs. I ¬developed a new vision that involved taking the business offshore.” The rebirth of Stork Craft included moving manufacturing from B.C. to factories in China, Indonesia and Brazil, with distribution centres in B.C., Seattle and New York. Part of Moore’s marketing strategy included retaining Stork Craft’s 85,000-square-foot Richmond plant for the purpose of manufacturing the same products they import, to ensure they never run out of stock in the event of offshore shortages. This enables Stork Craft to keep a competitive edge on its rivals, says Moore. “Our competitors are purely distributors, not manufacturers,” he explains. Today, an ¬estimated 10 per cent of the 150 products Stork Craft sells are manufactured in Canada, and 90 per cent are built overseas in Shanghai, Indonesia and Brazil. Partnering with big-box retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target, JCPenney and Toys “R” Us, Stork Craft was able to set up a substantial Web-based ordering system to sell directly to consumers. Buyers can select from a range of popular products on the retailers’ websites and have the ready-to-assemble furniture delivered to their door. “We are one of the only companies that can ship directly to our consumers. This is appealing to big-box retailers because they don’t need to stock our inventory,” says Moore. “That sets us apart from everybody else.” True to his game plan, Moore has successfully driven Stork Craft to become one of the world’s largest suppliers of juvenile furniture. Since he joined in 2002, sales have more than tripled and though the private company ¬doesn’t reveal earnings, Moore reports respectable ¬levels of return on investment and earnings ¬before taxes, depreciation and amortization. On August 23, 2006, Moore announced the acquisition of Ragazzi Furniture in Quebec, which reported 2005 sales of $30 million. As we talk, the 50-year-old father of twins (age 20) has just returned from a 17-day work trip to China. Pushing aside a stack of papers from his tidy desk, Moore turns his attention to a Chinese scroll pinned on a wall next to his desk. It’s the stark image of a tiger walking through a forest, etched in black ink on a white background. “In Chinese culture, the tiger is the king of beasts,” he explains in his pensive, soft-spoken manner. “It stands for power. I ¬selected this one because the artist really ¬captured the life of the tiger.” After high school, Moore went to UBC on a scholarship. In 1996, he bought the assets of an insolvent spa manufacturing factory in B.C. and in less than two years, Savannah Spa Manufacturing Ltd. was recording sales of ¬nearly $4 million a year, with over 100 franchise retail stores and a national distribution system. In 1999, Savannah was acquired by a large public company. He stayed on for two more years, expanding the factory to a larger facility in Langley. In early 2001, Moore decided to take an early retirement and earned a graduate diploma in management and then an MBA. Then came Stork Craft. Moore was drawn to the challenge, and had faith in his partner, Joseph Segal. Growth of the business has been both organic and through acquisitions. The company is opening a new plant in Richmond, starting a new product line and eyeing future acquisitions. “I am always looking for acquisitions and ways to expand our market share,” says Moore.