On May 3, 2002, New York City officials, The Bronx borough president, state senators, vendors, suppliers, and members of the banking and construction community gathered in The Bronx, New York, to witness an important new step in the development of Murray Feiss. They, along with Murray Feiss executives, their families and employees were present for a ribbon cutting ceremony to commemorate the opening of the company’s new distribution center. The Rose and David Feiss Distribution Center will not only improve Murray Feiss’ already award-winning customer service, but also enable the third largest privately-owned lighting company in the United States to become in the words of CEO Murray Feiss, “the biggest and the best lighting company in the Western Hemisphere.”
Feiss’ ambition is characteristic of an executive who inspires the inscription that can be found at the entrance of the new facility: “This building is dedicated to Murray Feiss who learned from past generations and taught this generation that ‘You only regret the things you do not do’.”
By past generations, the inscription is referring to Rose Feiss, the founder of the family-owned business, who instilled in Feiss the drive to succeed. During World War II, while her only son was serving in the U.S. Navy, strong-willed and determined Rose Feiss organized a small number of neighborhood housewives and started a business. She taught them hand-sewing, one of her many skills, and from her home in The Bronx began producing hand-sewn lampshades which she distributed locally. The demand for her handicraft forced Rose to find larger working quarters. Consequently, Rose rented a corner store and what started out as a small and modest operation flourished into a thriving business.
In the decades that followed Rose’s first storefront, the company’s manufacturing capacity expanded significantly to accommodate a growing demand for its products. By 1983, the company occupied no less than six buildings scattered throughout the South Bronx, Port Morris area. In 1983, the Feiss family was ready to streamline the business and consolidate all facets of its operations under one roof. The family bought and restored an abandoned 160,000-square-foot building in the South Bronx, where it currently provides jobs for more than 300 of its local citizenry, some of whom originally began their employment with Rose Feiss over fifty years ago.
Murray Feiss Today
Murray Feiss manufactures and distributes decorative lighting, accessories and occasional furniture to fine lighting and furniture showrooms around the world. Murray Feiss is a privately-held corporation with annual revenues in excess of one hundred million dollars. “Murray Feiss sells primarily to moderate to upscale decorative lighting showrooms, electrical wholesalers, and fine furniture galleries,” notes Andrea Greene, Murray Feiss’ vice president of advertising and public relations. Murray Feiss was founded on portable lighting and today it manufactures products in many other lighting categories, including table, floor, torchiere, vanity, wall bracket, pendant, flush, semi-flush, chandelier, and outdoor lighting.
Murray Feiss’ world headquarters is located in The Bronx and encompasses manufacturing as well as design and corporate offices. In addition to its facilities in New York, the company manufactures and assembles in company-owned factories in the Far East where the company has brand new facilities employing more than 1,300 professionals.
The Murray Feiss Hallmark
“Designing quality into the product has always been the hallmark of Murray Feiss,” says Ron Hersh, president of administration. Two head designers, one for fixtures and another for portable lighting, supervise an in-house team of architectural draftsmen, CAD operators, graphics designers, color forecasters, quality control experts, industrial designers, artists and inspectors. The design team guarantees that only the finest materials are used and design integrity maintained to create an original product. “The exclusivity of the Murray Feiss product is well-known within the industry; each sku is either copyright protected or patent pending,” notes Hersh.
Hand finished, custom and authentic patinas characterize all Murray Feiss collections, offering the consumer an extensive selection of decorator textures and colors to coordinate and compliment traditional, classic and contemporary décor. A sampling of the company’s current palette includes: Old English Silver, Brushed Steel, Vintage Pewter, Antique Silver, Terrazzo, Verona Bronze, Old World – provincial and French gold, Aged Wood, Sedona, Weathered Patina and introduced in 2002, Aged Tortoise Shell, Aegean Gold, Crackle Parchment, and Peruvian/Textured Bronze. Additionally, the company uses natural materials and precious metals such as mactan stone, alabaster, polished brass, silver, pewter, and 24-percent lead crystal to enhance product quality and design. Shading on all lamping is designer detailed using a wide variety of silks, linens, string, velveteen, vellum, and beaded trim combinations in original shapes and classic silhouettes.
Murray Feiss is also the exclusive manufacturer and distributor of Bob Mackie Home, a complete collection of portable lighting, chandeliers, tables, mirrors and decorative accessories created by the award winning-designer and interpreted by the company’s in-house team of design specialists. In addition to Bob Mackie Home, the company is in its fourth highly successful year collaborating with Gear, the home licensing and design consulting firm. Murray Feiss’ most recent design collaboration is with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, creating exclusive lighting products and accessories for its Pure•Simple•Today line of fine home decorative collections.
The New Distribution Center
The new distribution center will house Murray Feiss’ expanded receiving and distributing areas, and is a short walk from headquarters. With the addition of the distribution center, the company can count on warehousing capabilities of over 5.5 million cubic feet. Murray Feiss will now encompass more than three full city blocks for manufacturing and distribution.
“We brought in Gross Associates, the leading consultant on material handling logistics and technology to work with us,” says Robert Greene, president of operations at Murray Feiss and the main force behind the construction of the new building. “They were instrumental in bringing best practices to the distribution center.” The new facility has a material handling system capable of selecting, sorting, and consolidating more than 8,000 cases per day. Moreover, the facility offers storage capacity of 9,000 pallets of merchandise; the ability to handle seven tractor trailers or sea containers, plus a direct loading UPS trailer; and a fully computerized warehouse management system that tracks inventory and orders, and directs sortation.
According to Francis X. Daniti, vice president of Amec, the firm that oversaw construction of the facility, “The building has a super-flat surface, which is critical when you are storing pallets on top of each other to an equivalent height of six stories.” Other highlights of the new building include the following: the only VNA Class A warehouse in New York City; ten designated shipping/ receiving docks designed to handle semis up to 55 feet long; indoor docks which enhance security and offer weather protection; trailer docks at each bay; narrow aisles of 6.5 feet allowing for maximum storage; forklift range of more than 50 feet; and a 1,000-linear-foot conveyor system. “The fork lift trucks at the distribution center weigh in at 25,000 pounds and were custom designed for the company by a German firm,” adds Geoffrey Sisko, senior vice president at Gross Associates.
“The new distribution center is a milestone in the development of Murray Feiss,” notes CEO Murray Feiss. “Everyone knows how we started and where we’ve been – this new facility and the opportunities for growth it opens up tells us where we’re headed.”
The state-of-the-art facility was constructed with one main goal in mind: to improve the company’s service to its customers. The company’s customer service has already received accolades from the industry, in fact, according to CEO Murray Feiss, “Our customer service department is rated as one of the best in the United States.” Customer service is key to Murray Feiss’ industry. “I would want to emphasize the customer service aspect of our business,” notes Feiss. “We have a great product but the key aspect of our business is customer service. This facility will take us to the next level of customer service. The facility will provide us with additional office space and we’ll be able to expand our customer service department even further.”
“In the business we’re in, the customer demands quick delivery of their lighting products,” says Greg Vandia, vice president of sales and marketing for Murray Feiss. “The new facility will help us do just that. With the advantages in distribution the new facility offers, we will be able to turn around orders very quickly.”
The facility will also allow Murray Feiss to expand its product offering. The company is particularly excited about opportunities in the portable and outdoor lighting areas and is targeting these areas aggressively. “The facility opens up a tremendous opportunity for growth,” explains Robert Greene. “We’ve needed this for a long time as demand for our products has just skyrocketed. We talked about it for the last 4-5 years and now it’s finally happened.”
The new facility will also help the company expand into other geographic areas. While the company concentrates on the U.S. and Canadian market at the moment, it’s hoping to make a move into Mexico. “We’re working to get the permits needed to expand into Mexico,” says Feiss, “and based on the market research we’ve conducted, there is a lot of pent up demand for our products in Mexico.” Given the track record of the Murray Feiss management team, which includes Feiss, Robert Greene and Hersh, as well as key vice presidents and managers, no one should underestimate their determination to succeed.