This manufacturer began manufacturing in the Sydney suburb of Marrickville in 1986. Today 30 years on we sit down with well known industry figure Yosi Tal as he opens up and shares the highs and lows spanning 30 years in business.
Q – 30 years in business is quite a feat, can you share a moment or situation that took place that we don’t know about Designer Rugs.
It was a late afternoon on a warm Saturday in Sydney over 20 years ago… I was working at our Leichhardt Showroom and there had not been a soul in the showroom all day when in walked a bearded man simply dressed in a light white cotton shirt, shorts and sandals. He spent about ten minutes looking at the rugs and turned to me and asked if we would ship to Queensland. I answered in the affirmative thinking to my self I hope he doesn’t pay by cheque. He then proceeded to buy 2 rugs and opened one of those small credit card wallets. Out tumbled a myriad of cards in their plastic sleeves and said to me choose one. George Harrison was embossed on the cards and I realised that there was a Beatle in our showroom.
He then asked if I could meet him the next morning at the airport with the rugs as he wanted to take them him to Hamilton Island where he had a house. Off course I said, after he left I rang my younger sister Dafna and told her about what had just happened. She insisted that she would be the one to take the rugs so she could meet one of her idols. She met him the next morning at the airport and as she handed the rugs over he said to Dafna who was an attractive young lady “if you had been the salesperson I would have bought three!)
Q – Designer Rugs has historically focused on Australian design, with the exception to the Waterford collection, do you have plans to collaborate with international designers?
Not really, we are very passionate about Australian Design. We have a great In-house Design Team who design our own ranges as well as the collaborations that we have with Australian Designers and Artists.
Q – After this interview you step outside the office and find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $100 million. What would you do?
Help to make the world a better place. Invest in Education facilities in developing nations. Education is the great up lifter of people out of Poverty.
Q – Your latest collection with interior designer and refugee advocate Petrina Turner is one of my favourite collections. How do you select a design collaboration and what do you look for?
Its quite serendipitous. In most cases we were approached by the Artist or Designer to collaborate. If we like their work and we feel there is a synergy and their designs will translate well into rugs then we join forces.
Its not necessarily about them being famous or successful but more their work and their Design Ethos. Petrina by the way worked for Designer Rugs when she finished her Design Course 20 years ago. She rose from Assistant Designer to Senior Designer and also managed our Melbourne Showroom for a period before she left us to pursue an Interior Design Career. Although she no longer works for us, she still very much part of the Designer Rugs Family.
Q – We quite often celebrate our achievements, the highs and rarely discuss the lows. What would say was Designer Rugs darkest moment and how did DR rise above?
We had just started our little factory and my Father who is my business partner had a severe heart attack and was close to death. It was a very big struggle because I had no business experience but a family friend stepped in to help manage the Factory for about a year and my uncle stepped in as a mentor.
Q – Who is your role model, and why?
I don’t really have one. I am my own man. I do have people who I admire in business and also people who I dislike in business. One person I have a love /hate for is Paul Keating. Because although he modernised our Economy in the 80’s and forced it to be competitive but he also inflicted a recession on the country that some people didn’t survive and a period of very high interest rates (21%) which nearly put us out of business and many other Australian companies. I think because of him we and many other companies have been successful since because we learnt how to survive in business in the harshest business conditions. I must also say though that I have learnt tenacity staying the course from my Father..
Q- Tell me about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in 30 years at Designer Rugs.
In 30 years there are simply more then one, the very first commercial project in September 1986 – 3 months after we had opened our little Factory in Marrickville; was a rug for The Bishop’s Memorial area at St Patricks Cathedral in Melbourne ordered for the Popes visit that year. We actually managed to get a photo of the Pope kneeling on the rug praying. That photo opened many doors for us and really helped us to get established. One could say it was divine intervention. Another project in the late 80’s was when we made all the rugs for The Australian Emabassy in Tokyo. That was a huge order of many many rugs and helped us weather the bad recession of the time. Wolgan Valley by the Emirates group is a 6 star resort and we were greatly honoured to be selected. Working with Harry Seidler on many of his projects was a great honour and recently working with Catherine Martin on the Faena Hotel in South Beach Miami was very exciting. We made rugs for all the 280 rooms and all the other areas of the hotel. It was over a $1 million project.
Q – We’re constantly making things better, faster, smarter or less expensive. We leverage technology or improve processes. We strive to do more—with less. Tell me about a recent project or problem that you made better, faster, smarter, more efficient, or less expensive.
When Catherine Martin was creating the sets for the Great Gatsby Film she decided to include 4 huge rugs in various rooms of the Gatsby House…We had 4 weeks to make them and airfreight them from the mill But we made it. Normally that sort of project would need at least a 10 week lead-time. And by the way Leonardo DiCaprio liked one so much that he had it shipped back to his home in The USA.
Q – Over the past 30 years how many m2 of rugs have you sold?
Trade secret Richard…My competitors would love to know…But I am happy to tell you that we keep a lot of people employed at many rug mills in Asia.
Q – What can we look forward to in the next ten years from Designer Rugs?
Exciting innovative Australian Design and the Quality and Reliability that our loyal customers are used to from us. Maybe a Showroom in LA? ………….