By Lian Bunny – Reporter, Buffalo Business First
A nearly 40-year-old local business had found success in controlled growth year over year. That trajectory changed when the pandemic hit.
Appliance Associates of Buffalo, also doing business as Artisan Kitchens & Baths and Artisan Culinary Loft, grew incrementally by about 33% total from 2013 to 2019, according to Kevin Telaak, president.
“I think what happens is you don’t get too far ahead of yourselves,” he said. “You’re able to manage the business. You only have to make little adjustments each year to handle volume.”
Business has accelerated since Covid, growing about 15% in 2020 compared to the year prior. This year it’s on track to be up another 15% compared to 2020.
But between Covid-19 restrictions and unknowns, supply chain disruptions and freight issues, the company had to adjust quickly and get creative, Telaak said. Planning ahead wasn’t possible; instead, it could only stay informed on what was happening across the country, state and region and then react as swiftly as possible.
Success going into the pandemic
In 2002, Artisan Kitchens & Baths grew from Appliance Associates of Buffalo, an 87,000-square-foot facility at 200 Amherst St., Buffalo. Appliance Associates does wholesale appliance distribution. Artisan Kitchens & Baths provides appliances, design services and cabinetry choices to everyday consumers. It gives the company a public presence, Telaak said.
The business intentionally made its showroom as interactive as possible. Customers go to Artisan Kitchens & Baths for the experience of trying out appliances and working with staff.
“There’s really a lot to do here,” he said. “We’re a destination.”
The company further developed its brand in 2017 when it added the Artisan Culinary Loft, a live cooking space for events inside the Amherst Street facility. The space is stocked with equipment sold by the business. Though the Loft isn’t yet generating large profits, it’s a tool that helps Artisan Kitchens & Baths connect with its customers, he added.
Operating showroom during a pandemic
Artisan Kitchens & Baths closed its showroom early in the pandemic and connected with customers virtually via design boards. The retail space reopened June 10, 2020, by appointment only.
“The floodgates opened, and we have been busy ever since,” he said.
But demand is hampered by the sluggish supply chain, freight issues and limited availability of contractors, Telaak said.
Throughout the pandemic, what was consistent was the company’s full-time staff of 24. As a family-owned company, Telaak said he strives to treat employees well, address any concerns and communicate constantly with them.
“I consider myself lucky,” he said. “I don’t know that there’s a magic formula, necessarily. As an employer, you do the best you can to make sure everybody feels taken care of.”