Lapchi revolutionizes the rug business

| Print |  Email
Articles - February 2013
Monday, January 28, 2013
Lapchi
Managing partner: Kerry Smith
Founded: 2001
Employees: 48
Factoid: More than 6,000 custom and handmade rugs sold

Lapchi — Tibetan for “abode of good energy” — wasn’t the first company to fashion a made-to-order rug. “But we were the first to create a business model based on custom,” says Smith. Lapchi dealers typically purchase just a few rugs in each style, allowing interior designers to then customize for size and color. The manufacturing takes place in Kathmandu, where 30 Lapchi employees oversee the production of the on-demand carpets. Depending on the amount of silk and “knot density” — knots per square inch — a 9-foot-by-12-foot Lapchi rug typically costs between $7,000 and $12,000.

By 2005 most high-end rug dealers had started to adopt the Lapchi approach. But if the company revolutionized the industry, the rug company is also an example of “be careful what you wish for.” Under the new model, dealers no longer need large amounts of capital to purchase hundreds of rugs up front. “We inadvertently demonstrated the barriers to entry were very low,” Smith says. Today, “there are 100 companies doing what we do.”

As competition increased, so did factory costs, which are 70% higher than 12 years ago, Smith says. The recession also hit hard. In 2011 Lapchi grossed about $5 million, down from $6.5 million in 2008. To stay competitive in a tight market, Smith and his partner, Salman Khan, are pressing ahead with new innovations, with a focus on leveraging the atelier concept into higher sales.



 

More Articles

Is there life beyond Reed?

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY GARY THILL | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

A storied institution climbs down from the ivory tower.


Read more...

Photo Log: Shooting 10 innovators in rural health care

The Latest
Monday, August 03, 2015
007blogBY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

You may have noticed the photos of our rural health innovators departed from the typical Oregon Business aesthetic.


Read more...

Business partnerships: taming the three-headed monster

Contributed Blogs
Monday, July 06, 2015
070615-businessmarriagefail-thumbBY KATHERINE HEEKIN | OB GUEST COLUMNIST

Picking a business partner is not much different than choosing a spouse or life partner, and the business break-up can be as heart-wrenching and costly as divorce.


Read more...

Money Troubles

September 2015
Thursday, August 20, 2015
BY DAN COOK

The state’s angel investing fund gets hammered in Salem.


Read more...

Big Trouble in China?

Guest Blog
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
0818-wellmanthumbBY JASON NORRIS | CFA

Earlier this month, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) announced they were going to devalue their currency, the Renminbi. While the amount of the targeted change was to be roughly 2 percent, investors read a lot more into the move. The Renminbi had been gradually appreciating against the U.S. dollar (see chart) as to attempt to alleviate concerns of being labeled a currency manipulator.


Read more...

Reader Input: Fair Play

May 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Former Governor John Kitzhaber's resignation in February prompted some soul searching in this state about ethical behavior in industry and government.


Read more...

Greenpeace (temporarily) prevents Shell oil ship from leaving Portland

The Latest
Thursday, July 30, 2015
hangersBY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Greenpeace activists suspended themselves from the St. John's Bridge in an attempt to prevent a ship from heading to the Arctic.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS