LOGAN – A little over a decade ago, a recently-graduated Utah State couple wanted some luxury bed linens. The problem was, because they were recent graduates they didn’t have the money to buy what they wanted. So Sam Malouf began his quest to find a way to produce expensive looking and expensive feeling linens at a fraction of the cost. Thus began the Malouf business model of attainable luxury. That small operation has grown into a company with facilities in Logan and North Carolina.
And now, the Logan-based start-up has continued its growth trajectory by purchasing the 675,000 square foot La-Z-Boy building in Tremonton. The La-Z-Boy facility more than doubles their space, cresting 1 million overall square feet for the bedding accessories manufacturer.
“I think warehousing is one of the big bottlenecks for companies growing here in the valley. So we are constantly looking for warehouse space,” says Preston Frischknecht, general counsel for Malouf and member of the company’s executive team involved in acquisitions. “I think this presented the right opportunity for us.”
The facility is close to I-15 and I-84, making it easier for the company to keep its promise of same-day shipping for its wholesale suppliers throughout the western United States.
While the building was once used to manufacture furniture, Malouf plans to primarily use the building only as a warehouse and distribution space. But because of the sheer size of the building, other businesses may occupy it as well as Malouf.
“It’s a big building and we are going to occupy a portion of that space,” Frischknecht says. “But we are probably also going to be inviting other business members in the community to be tenants in that building. So it’s not going to be exclusively ours and we’re not going to fill it up, at least in the near term. There will probably be a variety of business interests in there.”
Having the building occupied and potentially getting other businesses involved there is music to the ears for Mitch Zundel, Economic Development Director for Box Elder County.
“You drive by the facility and it’s been vacant for so many years it’s hard to see an empty parking lot for that many years and you get kind of depressed,” Zundel explains. “But knowing the building has been purchased and being renovated and possibly bringing in other businesses just gives that light and energy back to the facility.”
According to Zundel, at the height of its manufacturing heyday the La-Z-Boy facility was employing upwards of 800 people. Malouf won’t employ nearly that many, but does hope to grow into the space.
“We’re not going to show up on the map and instantly have 500 new jobs,” Frischknecht says. “We’re a super home-grown business. The people who work here and the people who started this up are from the community.
“We are looking at making it bigger and to involve the community more with what we are doing. While that might not equate to x number of jobs, there will definitely be an impact as far as our involvement, how we work with other businesses. There will be some new jobs if we continue growing. That’s the part we’re excited about.”
Zundel says the purchase of the building exemplifies the growth that is happening again in Box Elder County.
“Back in 2010, Box Elder County was approaching 10% unemployment. We are close to 4% now,” Zundel says. “We are seeing a lot of interest from companies across the country, even some international companies taking a look at the state of Utah as a whole but also looking at Box Elder County.”
The exponential growth of the company over the last two to three years can be traced back to its e-commerce business and becoming more available in national retail outlets.
“A significant component of the business was online and mom-and-pop stores, small accounts early on,” Frischknecht explains. “The wholesaling and retail side of the business is one of the fastest growing components of the business.
“We started getting trade show spaces across the country and in the last year to two years we have really started making connections in the industry, and started making pitches to big box and specialty retail. We’ve been growing our wholesale and retail account component of the business, but the online part has been a big part of it in our early days.”
Malouf is also moving forward with its plans to expand its corporate headquarters in Cache Valley which will be located in Nibley. The facility in Nibley will not only be used as corporate offices, but will also handle some warehousing. The original plans for the building had some Nibley residents concerned, but according to marketing communications manager Jake Neeley, Malouf has altered its plans and so has Nibley City.
“The plot, based on Nibley City’s plans and where their roads went, concerned some of the residents,” Neeley explains. “Based on their concerns, some of the plans have changed and the city itself has changed some of its plans. So it becomes a much more comfortable fit with the residents of Cache Valley, Nibley specifically, and becomes more of a fit in Tremonton.”
The company is hoping to be in their Nibley facility by this time next year.