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Blonder Taps New Team to Expand its Distribution, Product Mix

Blonder Home, the supplier of kitchen accessories, bath coordinates and wall coverings, has taken on new leadership aimed at "repositioning" the company to service all levels of retail.

After serving on the company's board of director for five years, Bill Foley assumed the roles of chairman and ceo of Blonder last September. He has since brought on several new executives to help him steer Blonder into new directions.

Laurey Banker, who for the past eight years owned and operated her own marketing firm called The Mighty Pen here, joined Blonder in February as marketing director for the wall coverings and kitchen accessories categories, and director of marketing communication.

Jeffrey Zelmer, who spent 16 years at American Greetings working in graphic design and product development, was recently appointed marketing director of Blonder's bath accessories division.

Bill Kolesar was recently hired as vp, sales. He comes to Blonder from Moen, where he served as head of retail sales and wholesale sales.

Under Foley's leadership, the new team is "trying to rebuild the business and reposition us for the future. And if we do our work well, and I think we will, we can take this business to a very different place," said Foley, who worked in the wall covering business about 20 years ago but who later held executive posts in several consumer product companies like Rubbermaid and Scotts. Most recently he was chairman and ceo of lawn and garden equipment and golf course management company Lesco.

That new "place" is actually many new places — ranging from discount stores through high-end gift shops.

To support the expansion, Blonder recently laid down groundwork, Foley said.

"We've built a distribution system that can address every level in retail today," he said, noting this base was implemented earlier this year. And, he continued, "we are trying to reinvent and re-launch all of our categories — wall coverings, kitchen accessories and bath coordinates — in a mainstream design-focused way."

For the New York Home Fashions Market in September, Blonder plans to present a new kitchen accessories program — one that will represent a "significant repositioning" from the company's existing kitchen line. Textiles, which are already included as a component, will receive special attention here.

"We are creating segmentations and different price points and types of material to address all channel and customers," said Banker. "Our product line matches up to different levels — in a good, better and best approach."

The same is true for the bath coordinates and wall coverings product lines, she said.

"We serve discounters all the way to gift stores, but our approach needs to be more focused with greater emphasis on leading edge design, so we're investing on our skill sets to get us there," Foley said.

New product categories, constructions and price points are also part of the effort in all businesses.

Blonder's sales volume is evenly split, 50/50, between the wall coverings division and the kitchen accessories and bath coordinates division.

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