ORANGEBURGH, New York — Arc/Com, a privately held, contract jobber, is transitioning to its second family generation of management with Jeff Layne co-founder still at the wheel with his team.
“I joined Arc/Com because I see the opportunity to help this business grow and scale,” says Marc Layne, 48-year old heir apparent with his sister Ali.
“We have great product, the pulse of the market and our reps are among the best in the business and we believe we can double our size in the next five years,” Marc feels.
“This business is in my blood and I have been around Arc/Com since I was a teen. As I have matured, I have grown to appreciate the uniqueness, quality and scale of the business. When I look at the product we have, the energy and capabilities of our team and the industry trends, I see tremendous opportunities for our business in the years ahead.”
“We are one of the last independent entities in the industry (we have not been consolidated or taken on private equity), which we think is a great differentiator as well as a source of opportunity for Arc/Com.” Sheila, Marc’s mom has also been involved with Arc/Com in the past and “she still feels strong ties to the business as well,” Marc explains. “I also think you should consider Ali for her option value. When she is ready to enter, she could do much more than the ‘marketing’ she mentioned and any entry will be based on her desire; the invitation will always be there as she is family and very capable.”
“It’s also important that you understand that Jeff has no intentions of retiring any time soon; we want him to stay active and his 50 years of experience, knowledge and judgement is a great resource and differentiator that we capitalize on every day.”
“Jeff, Executive Vice President Marisa Pichigian and I work as a cohesive unit to manage the business and our strengths enable us to naturally gravitate to certain areas of operations in order to execute our growth strategy. Marisa is an important part of the story at Arc/Com and should be painted in a very positive light. Her ability to step up a few years ago helped Arc/Com manage difficult times and her capabilities, consistency, loyalty and drive make her an invaluable member of the Executive Team.”
“The infrastructure investments we are making are not because the business can’t continue to do well as it is, but because we can grow faster and with modernized processes and systems, we can be more effective and efficient getting product to market and our customers.”
Marc joined the family business just under a year ago but fondly remembers going to the Arc/Com warehouse with his sister Ali when they were small children.
In addition to the gradual changing of the guard at Arc/Com with an emphasis on team management—Marc, Jeff, Ali and Marisa–the company’s business has turned from nearly 60 percent healthcare projects to 60 percent hospitality projects just in the last five years, Jeff Layne confirms.
Nevertheless, Arc/Com exhibits only at Neocon in June where its 4,000 square foot showroom is host to all kinds of hospitality, corporate and healthcare designers who attend; about 2,500 of them a day, he says. You will not currently see Arc/Com exhibit at any other exhibition in spite of the shift to the hospitality business.
Arc/Com’s 5,000 sku line of wallcovering, curtain and upholstery fabric is geared to hospitality markets today which is a sea change for the company. “Healthcare is in a state of flux in the USA,” Jeff reports. “Hotels like Ritz Carlton are changing or refreshing their interiors every five years. The 1,500 chairs in a banquet hall are changing every three years at the rate of 500 chairs a year to keep them fresh looking,” he adds. Arc/Com introduced 768 sku’s last year, Jeff Layne points out.
The biggest part of the Arc/Com business is upholstery fabric followed by hospital privacy curtains which use a special silver yarn that is nylon coated. Arc/Com says it is an exclusive licensee and inventories the yarn made by Noble Biomaterials, Inc., Scranton, PA. “The pure silver yarn is oxidized by the human touch on the privacy curtain which repels germs and odors,” he says. Arc/Com Product sells for $12-$50 a yard. Vinyl wallcovering produced by Arc/Com is of exclusive design courtesy of the embossing rollers also owned by the company. Green Certification is a big thing at Arc/Com.
Amanda Eaton is Vice President, Design. Eaton and her cohorts are passionate about finished product even though Jeff is still the arbiter of what gets in the line. He attended Proposte with Amanda, Marc and Ali this year in spite of back surgery two years ago which has slowed him down physically—but he is on the mend and still robust!
“Italian designers are still the most innovative in the world,” Jeff says “The good stuff is still in Italy. Italians may buy solid textured cloths in China but they are piece dyed in Italy,” he comments. “Yarn is the secret of interesting product. Proposte is the home of the creative atmosphere in Italy and Como is like dying and going to heaven on the Lake.” (His favorite restaurant is Jardin in Lugano.)
“We’re all equals here,” Jeff reports. “We have many 30-40-year people on staff,” Pichigian chimes in. Marisa R. Pichigian, was named Executive Vice President after the passing of Peter Layne, Jeff’s brother and partner in 2013.
“I became the liaison between Jeff and Peter, which many people didn’t envy, yet I only saw the benefits as I became a trusted partner rather than the status quo,” she explains.
She has been a key part of Arc/Com for 23 years, starting in human resources. She says she has hired most of the sales people in the field for Arc/Com. The Company now employs about 200 people.
Ali Leitner, Jeff Layne’s daughter is also joining the company but with two young children, she still wants to be home for them. Her background is marketing and Jeff admits he needs a fulltime marketing and communications manager. Ali may ease into that role at least part time.
Marc Layne is the newest recruit already retired from one career on Wall Street at the age of 48 after 20 years in the saddle. Now, he’s in the family business. In banking, he focused on transactions and capital raising until he burnt out doing 100 hour weeks and 250,000 air miles per year. During that career he took time to get his MBA at Stern College at NYU. He has worked for Bear Stearns, J.P. Morgan and Royal Bank of Canada.
Now, he is looking for a new ERP system for Arc/Com so the company has the tools to double sales in the next five years.
“Our original software was ahead of its time. We ran it since 1984 and it worked for us quite well. Now we need something else that will handle our expansion. A mill uses a system to measure 50 yard rolls. We take that roll and cut it up into a lot of pieces; each must be tracked. It’s the backbone of our business.”
When Marc is not working he’s taking his family on rides in Mantoloking Bay in New Jersey with his 26-foot Crown Line motorboat. He’s got three kids, two girls, 15 and 16 and a boy, 11. His wife is also retired from IBM where she made partner at a young age.
“This business is my family. I thought I could help,” Marc adds.