Volume 8 | Issue 2 | Year 2005

The retail industry lives and breathes by how well it can display products for consumers. Knowing that creativity and directness are keys to making the sale is a company called VIRA Manufacturing, a leader in the design, development, manufacture and presentation of quality store fixtures and accessories. A multi-media company, VIRA has been awarded numerous contracts for specialty fixturing from major retailers throughout the world, ranging from discounters and mass merchants to specialty shops and high-end department stores.

“These contracts were the result of successful on-line bids, closed bids and other independent negotiations,” says Vice President of Operations John Majcher. “Further, strategic alliances with state-of-the-art technology companies and VIRA’s ability to design-build and integrate systems enables the company to seek additional venues beyond the reach of its competitors.”

VIRA is a privately held company founded in 1991 by a small group of manufacturing and sales executives, all veterans to the store fixture manufacturing industry. Currently owned by Churchill Capital of Minneapolis, Minn., VIRA has recently acquired Bon-Art International and is seeking additional acquisitions to further its position in the industry.

Multiple gains
Retail is the second-largest industry in the United States both in number of establishments and number of employees. The U.S. retail industry generates $3.8 trillion in retail sales annually, approximately $11,690 per capita.

Despite such enormous reach, the retail fixture component of the retail segment has witnessed shrinking margins due to the popularity of reverse auctions, on-line bids and material increases. VIRA, however, has been able to counter the trend and expand its manufacturing base worldwide, capitalizing on the strengths of the dollar compared to local currencies while also utilizing vendor partnerships to provide cost effective components, says Vice President of Sales and Engineering Alan Rabinowitz.

Currently, the company operates in excess of 325,000 square feet of fabrication space in Perth Amboy, N.J. with access to an additional 125,000 square feet of warehousing in Los Angeles, Calif. The factory has recently purchased additional metalworking and wood working equipment to support the custom fabrication of mixed media products.

These products are fabricated from metal, wood, acrylic and glass, and are enhanced with electronics and graphics, and include loose fixtures, perimeter fixtures, hardware, sign holders, wrap counters and showcases. VIRA also manufactures everything from T-stands, round and straight racks and four-way stands to modular fitting rooms, wall systems, and custom fixtures.

“Our proprietary line of showcases offers a complete range of island configurations for jewelry, cosmetics, electronics and giftware,” Rabinowitz says. “They are the most versatile in the industry with unlimited design options available.”

Innovations that VIRA has brought to market include a patented line of security devices for the wireless and portable electronics industry called “The Claw.” In addition, its Virage line of digital imaging on any substrate enables the company to duplicate stone, marquetry, tile or virtually any finish on wood, plastic, metal or glass.

The Vira-Fi sign merchandiser is a major breakthrough in display signage. It uses revolutionary SmartPaper(tm) that wirelessly changes product names, prices and descriptions to maximize sales strategies. Vira-Fi Sign devices are networked, template-based, battery-operated displays with programmable text, digital and graphic image fields. Displays can be read from any angle and only consume battery power when the copy is changed. The Vira-Fi sign also allows companies to place their own brand logosabove the message area.

The company’s ViraPoint line of high technology products employs gesture recognition and wireless signage for retail applications, which include:
• store directories that lead shoppers to the desired department and the merchandise;
• shopper information centers that show complete product information and “FIND IT” locator;
• gift registry, allowing shoppers to build a registry of desired products;
• store tours, an in-window display that permits tours of store after hours;
• incentive programs gaming option that allows shoppers to “earn points” for discounts.
Other advances include the company’s interactive kiosk, a multi-faceted computerized audio-visual unit that combines everything from fragrance dispensing and onscreen advertising to credit card information shopping, store information, data collection and merchandise display.

To ensure its large retail clients get the most out of their relationship with the company, VIRA offers its customers the latest technological advances in manufacturing mixed media products. This provides the most innovative and cost effective products for both visual merchandising and bulk-out presentations. To further support its customer network, VIRA touts itself as a one-stop shopping resource, which further sets it apart from its competition and creates the greatest value for customers. Services offered by the company include research and development, prototyping, engineering, manufacturing, warehousing, installation and inventory management.

As the company attests on its Web site: “Subtle or dramatic, VIRA’s proprietary and fresh fixture designs promote and correlate beauty and commerce together like never before.”

Preferred player
Says Majcher, VIRA currently ranks in the top 20 in its industry and has addressed its growth plans “with an aggressive sales and marketing initiative inclusive of acquisitions and partnerships.” VIRA, he adds, achieved record sales in 2004, which represented a 35-percent, year-over-year growth rate.

“Our versatility and excellence in design, engineering and manufacturing has provided entrée into new markets; coupled with installation and warehousing capabilities,” he adds. “VIRA offers complete turnkey services to our customers.”

Majcher describes the company’s growth as bi-modal, through the constant upgrade of process and equipment as well as acquisition. “VIRA’s strengths lie in our innovation and creativity, worldwide manufacturing and ability to provide merchandising solutions to a broad spectrum of client needs,” he says. “VIRA is a ‘can do’ company, committed to excellence and driven to be an industry leader.”

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