In the best of all possible worlds, every home workshop would have plenty of room for large cabinetmaker saws. In the meantime, Dale Alldredge thinks you might want to consider his Rousseau Company’s line of stands and accessories.
Dale purchased the company from Tony Rousseau last year in June. The company, founded by Tony in 1986, makes a line of stands and accessories that expand the versatility and range of smaller power tools. A cabinetmaker and installer, Tony had hauled small portable table saws to jobsites for years. The saw often sat on the floor, where plywood sheets as big as 4′ x 8′ were manhandled through it. Tony decided there had to be an easier and safer way. He developed a stand that could be easily rolled to the worksite. When the stand and smaller bench saw were combined, they functioned as a larger, cabinet-style saw. Tony went into business and his company’s line of saw stands — and later lines of miter saw stands and router tables and router accessories — caught on with both professionals and hobbyists.
“Tony’s original concept,” Dale recalled, “was to develop power tool accessories that were portable and durable enough to withstand the rigors of the work site and constant use. From that point, the company expanded into other foldable and portable jobsite stands. As these products evolved, we added new models … primarily for in-shop use. Today our customer base is 50% on the commercial construction side and 50% on what we would call the serious woodworker … particularly someone with limited space. We’re still actively seeking both markets.”
Since the recent acquisition, the company has undergone a complete product line review to evaluate the strength and weaknesses and competitive advantages of all the product lines. The process produced a couple of significant changes.
“We’ve done a complete makeover of the product line … changing the colors and labeling,” Dale explained. “The heavy powder-coated black color makes it easy to pick out a Rousseau product at a dealer’s display. For service or adding accessories, our updated labeling makes it easier for customers to call and tell us exactly what they have, so we can better serve them.”
“We discovered that all of our products were basically high-end products … at the upper end of the pricing curve. So we’ve developed entry-level products in each one of our categories … I call it laddering. In our miter saw line, for example, we were only offering two different products or models. Now we offer five models with retail price points starting as low as $129.”
All Rousseau products are manufactured in Clarkson, Washington, where the company employs 24 people. For RandD, the facility includes a shop where products are tested and demonstrated, and competitors’ products are analyzed. The shop also doubled as a photo studio for the company’s new catalog, which is just out. With its release, the company is starting to get the word out about all the changes. It has also tripled its advertising presence in the trade journals and plans to attend at least three trade shows this year. All products are sold through multiple channels … through catalogs, storefront, and online retailers. New sale displays and sales literature will encourage dealers to promote the product lines.
“The breadth and depth of our product line sets us apart from the competition. Our products are designed to be portable, and most of them fold and can be stored away in a manual amount of space. And a lot of our products are multi-functional. You can remove the miter saw from the stand and store it on the lower shelf and use the stand for other purposes. We use three words to characterize our products. Portable … meaning almost all fold up and are easily transportable; accurate … you see that in our stop and fence systems; and durable … something we back up with a lifetime warranty.”
What’s ahead for Rousseau?
“In our new catalog,” Dale noted, “We have nine new products that accomplish the laddering I spoke about, and I’m excited about all of them. But I’m particularly excited about our portable planer stand. It expands the maximum width of standard infeed/outfeed wings from 31″ up to 93″. It’s totally portable with industrial casters that can be locked into stationary position and it folds back to a 31″ x 31″ inch footprint. It’s 36 inches high so you’re working above the workbench. You can even remove the portable planer from the platform, store it within the stand and have 11 additional square feet of work space!”
“Obviously we’re trying to expand our customer base and create more demand for Rousseau products and attract a larger dealer base. And as we look ahead and evaluate the various types of power tools, we’ll see what makes sense to add to our product line and accessories. But I don’t see us getting into the manufacture of miter or table saws. Our business is the accessory business.”
Dale’s background is in finance and manufacturing. After spending 10 years as the vice president of finance at a state college, he started his own manufacturing company that made outdoor power equipment. When he sold that company a few years ago, he began looking for another opportunity, and Rousseau surfaced. Though he doesn’t have a background in woodworking, he’s excited about trying out the products and has started using them for his own projects.
“I love the manufacturing business and woodworking in particular, because the folks involved are so avid about their hobby and occupation. They tell me our products create a safer environment, make the work easer, and frankly increase the fun of working with wood. I’ve having a great time!”
You can find out more about Rousseau, order a catalog or locate a nearby dealer at their web site.