Roger Lewis: history and heritage
In order to really get to know a long-standing business, you have to have a little dig around in the archives and do your homework on its origins, founders, ethos and heritage.
Lucky in this case then, I didn’t have to search too far. Roger Lewis himself is part of my extended family – and the founder of the business, now run by the second generation that’s ensuring it’s not only surviving but thriving today.
So, where did it all begin?
Let me take you back to the late 1970s (or, like me, it may be a first-time visit). Roger was working for Terence Conran at the time, designing cabinetry for Habitat, before deciding to up-sticks and move to Bath.
Bath Cabinet Makers
It was here in Bath that Roger was offered the position of Design Director for well-established company Bath Cabinet Makers. This was a firm that had been running since way back in 1892 (it had contracts with both the Royal Family and luxury cruise liners in the past), renowned for its high-quality workmanship.
Heals and John Lewis
After moving on to launch a new upholstery business, Roger was then approached by iconic British retailer Heals in 1988, who were after a British manufacturer to create high-quality furniture. Roger stepped up to the challenge and, as a result of its success, also formed a strong relationship with British retail giant John Lewis (no relation!). From there, Roger Lewis – “the brand” – grew organically by maintaining a key focus on relationships and integrity, which meant the business expanded almost solely from word-of-mouth recommendations.
With his equally-as-hardworking wife, Pat, by his side, the two of them worked for many years to drive the business forwards and carve out a strong reputation – even keeping their heads above water throughout the economic downturn (dare I mention the ‘credit crunch’) of 2008-10.
The business, from day one, has always stood for beautiful, simple design made with two core values: passion and integrity. Even when Nick, Roger’s son, and Marc, Roger’s son-in-law, took over the business in 2013, those values have never changed. Roger Lewis was relaunched in 2015 with a focus on improving the service they offered to make their clients’ lives as easy as possible (enter Roger’s daughter, Mollie!).
Roger and Pat, meanwhile, now focus on golf and bridge (and helping to look after their grandson) while the next generation strives to enhance the Roger Lewis brand reputation that they built up over so many years.
So – there we have it. A few decades summed up in one journal post. But really, looking at a company’s heritage – however briefly – is an invaluable guide to help navigate its future. Ultimately, and predictably, not everything that worked for a brand in the 1980s will work today. But when the core values remain intact and the focus on quality and passion is never lost, a brand can only build on its successes.
If you want to hear more about the past, give us a call and we’ll give you Roger’s mobile number! Alternatively, if you’d like to say hi or pick our brains on how we could collaborate, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. Like we say, our doors are always open.