Eclipse, with its black and-gold color combination, was introduced after the success of its navy-colored products a few seasons ago.
Like most manufacturers, tabletop company Pampa Bay is jumping into the summer trade show circuit with the goal of expanding its distribution and establishing new accounts. If it can lure prospective retail buyers into its showroom to touch and feel its products, executives believe, it stands a good chance of converting them into customers.
The ace up its sleeve is a proprietary technology that makes its porcelain dishes and bowls appear to be made from, or trimmed in, metal, which makes them more casual, livable and lifestyle oriented. Its lineup of multi-sectioned serveware, appetizer plates, cracker trays and other products are easy-care, dishwasher-safe and oven-safe and do not tarnish, stain or react adversely with acidic foods like salad dressing the way aluminum or other metal products can. Observers would say, “I cannot believe it’s not metal!” and that ultimately became the company’s trademarked tagline.
“Our product dresses up nicely,” and is one of the keys to the company’s success over the past two and a half years, said Alan Buff, a tabletop industry veteran who has served as a consultant and an advisor to Pampa Bay for many years. Although he declined to share the privately owned company’s sales figures, Buff said that over the past five years, Pampa Bay has enjoyed a 40% compounded growth rate despite recent logistical and other pandemic-related challenges.
Pampa Bay was founded 15 years ago by Carlos Barbagallo, who named the company after the Pampas grain belt of Argentina, where Barbagallo is from. For the first five or six years of its existence, Pampa Bay produced private label products for others; about eight years ago it decided to build its own brand name, primarily through cast and sheet aluminum tabletop products. In 2016, while on a product development trip in Asia, Barbagallo came across the technology for a finish that looks metallic but contains no metal. It introduced seven SKUs at the New York Gift Show that year. They were tucked away on the bottom shelf of its booth at the Jacob Javits Center, but according to Buff, the company conducted more business with those seven items that it did with the whole rest of the booth. “The line got into stores and immediately turned,” he said.
By Buff’s standard, the most important growth rate and indicator of success is the product turn rate. In the month ending in April, five percent of customers had ordered 10 or more times in the previous 12 months. Fifteen percent ordered between five and nine times in the previous nine months.
In 2017, Pampa Bay offered 136 SKUs, 56 of which were porcelain. Today, it produces 379 SKUs, all of which are porcelain with its proprietary metal-look finish. Its main channels of distribution are specialty independent shops and high-end jewelry and tabletop stores, but it also sells to some larger retailers such as Dillard’s.
Among its more popular pieces are its cracker trays and multi-sectioned serveware. They come in a range of color and finish combinations, such as white with gold or silver beading, or an all-gold or all-silver hammered finish. It recently added a navy colorway to its lineup and after that was well-received, added a black and gold combination.
Pampa Bay made “major” introductions in January, according to Buff, and has 19 product extensions planned for this summer’s markets. It exhibits in rep showrooms in Dallas, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Minneapolis and Seattle.
In the first four months of this year, Pampa Bay opened “hundreds” of new accounts, said Buff. “Our goal is to continue that trend.”