All in the family? When it comes to the furnishings line Hauser, absolutely! This Canadian company is today operated by two generations of the Hauser family, with 2019 marking its 70th year of business. For decades, the brand has been producing quality furniture and accessories. Its outdoor furniture, for which the company is best known, has become a fixture of the Canadian summer, cropping up in backyards, on patios, around pools, and on balconies across the nation — and well beyond those borders, too, as Hauser has continuously expanded its international reach.
We recently spoke with Stephanie Hauser, one of the current owners, about how the company has evolved over the years and what customers can hope to expect during this special anniversary year.
Hauser has been family-run for the past 70 years. As a third-generation operator, were you immersed in the business from a young age and when did you take on the role of CEO?
The company has always been a big part of my life; even at a young age, I knew I wanted to pursue a career with the family business. Which is exactly what I did. Right after I graduated from the University of Toronto, I joined the business. At the time, we were just beginning to shift into “factory direct” marketing and in the process of opening our company-owned stores, directly marketing to the end consumer. It was an exciting time to be coming on board!
Shortly thereafter, my sister Holly and cousins Chris and Jay also joined the company. We all grew up together (our fathers are twins). It’s nice to continue the family run business tradition being proudly third generation. We co-operate the company as a team.
Home décor has changed so much over the years and people have become so much more adventurous in creating their own unique spaces. I love that we can be there to help with our wide variety of products that suit any design preference.
Has it been challenging to remain family owned and operated? Have there been opportunities over the years to sell to larger corporations — perhaps moments when your family has had to think long and hard about the future of the business?
We are and have remained passionate about our business and love the fashion side associated with furniture and décor. We are proud to have our family name on our goods and we are adamant about bringing a quality product to the market. With that, it hasn’t been a challenge for us to stay true to our roots as a family-run Canadian company.
When you love what you do, are passionate about your product, have amazing employees, outstanding customers, and family by your side who all have the same goals in mind, it makes it a lot easier to divert challenges and keep growing the business as a team.
How would you describe the aesthetic of Hauser as having evolved over the years? Are there ways in which you’ve notably steered the ship in a new direction once you became CEO?
If you spent a day inside of our walls, you would notice that the dynamic of our business is teamwork — not a typical “top down” structure. We are always looking for new ways to market our product and stay ahead of the curve. It’s important to be current and always search for new channels of distribution and new products that fit our demographic, our manufacturing facility, and our brand.
How does Hauser stay up to date with the latest décor trends? And how do you position yourselves competitively with the big box stores?
We are a brand offering superior quality. We provide good, better, and best offerings, but all built with quality in mind. We offer superior customer service, space planning, and design services. We also offer the flexibility of in-store pick up or shipping directly to the home or cottage for our clients who choose to shop our e-commerce site. It’s a personalized service to ensure that our clients’ needs are always being met. A lot of people aren’t aware that we also service what we sell and offer a full refurbishing program to past customers.
Your company is proudly Canadian. We imagine that the Canadian climate presents plenty of challenges when it comes to creating durable outdoor furniture. What special measures have to be taken on the design and manufacturing side to maintain a reliable product standard?
We have an efficient facility along with many long-standing employees who are involved in the engineering and design of our products. Staying current with new technology is important in order for us to remain competitive. A majority of our furniture items have weather resistant fabrics and materials, which makes them ideal for the Canadian climate. For example, our Enviro Wood collection is an all-weather marine-grade recycled HDPE Polymer, the kind that you would find in milk jugs. This extremely high performance polymer will not rot or splinter, and contains UV inhibitors that resist fading. For the off-season, we also offer furniture covers that are available in a variety of sizes that are water resistant — perfect for the winter months.
From a small company perspective, how have you evolved and re-strategized to keep up with trends in technology? Were you early to the world of social media advertising, for instance, or did it take you a while to shift towards those platforms?
We like to stay current and embrace young new talent and new ways of getting heard. I wouldn’t say it took us a long time to adapt to social media, but it is something that you can never stop learning! Digital is the day and age that we live in, and we have realized the importance of adapting. With that, we do have a higher focus on our social platforms and our e-commerce store, making it easier than ever for us to connect with clients while also making it easier for clients to find out more about our products.
Let’s talk about trends in housing. Has increasing urbanization, and less outdoor/green space, inspired the company to switch gears at all? Plenty of millennials have balconies instead of backyards — have you been designing products with that in mind?
We have diverse collections that suit small spaces that are specially designed to stack and could stay out year-round if need be. As condo living has become a popular choice for many, it has become critical to develop products for these spaces — the same quality, but for smaller spaces. You now have the ability to make Hauser part of your outdoor space, whether that be a condo balcony, an estate, the cottage, or the suburbs.
Hauser is also a producer of indoor furniture. How do you work with your designers to form collections that are cohesive and distinctly “Hauser” when working with such a wide product range — rugs, hardware, wall art, furniture, etc.?
Hauser was known years ago for our extensive line of dinette and barstools, so indoor is not really something new. We are just recreating indoor with current styles. We work with strategic partners on our indoor collection to bring to the market each season something on point and on trend for a casual living space. Our new Burlington, Ontario flagship store, opening this fall, will have a dedicated indoor space year-round.
Your brand is very community focused. How do you stay involved and what are your objectives?
It’s very important for us to be involved within our communities and give back where we can. We donate to local charities in each community and local organizations, often through events such as charity sporting events.
As 2019 marks the 70th anniversary of the company, are there any commemorative collections or special initiatives coming down the pipeline?
We have incorporated a lot of branding around our 70th anniversary, and with that have held special sales that have been happening all summer long on our more popular items. We wanted to offer these special promotions to show our appreciation to our customers for being part of our journey for the past 70 years and many more to come! Heading into the fall, we are excited about a new line of indoor collections, but you will have to wait until they’re announced to learn more.
Hauser has a new store opening in Burlington, Ontario. Are there any plans to expand further across Canada?
Actually, many people may not be aware that we ship around the world! If you have a home here in Canada, but a winter home somewhere down south, we can ship to you!
As for expanding across Canada, you never know where a Hauser location might show up… As for now, you can find us at our seven different locations across Ontario.
We’re curious — do you have any favourite collection pieces that you personally have in your own backyard or cottage?
That’s a tough one! I can’t really say that I have a favourite piece per se; I really do enjoy all of the items that I own (I know that’s a typical thing to say, but it’s true!). Each piece helps to create an outdoor space that I love. I can speak for myself and my family that if you were to take a peek at our backyard or cottage, Hauser products would be there!