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Allan D Duck of Dahlgren Duck outlines the business of bespoke dinner service design
What services does your company offer?
Dahlgren Duck & Associates’ Custom Luxury division supplies bespoke design-integrated dinner services, linens, fabrics and related furnishings for yachts, private jets, palaces and large-scale private residences. This entails expert coordination with owners and their representatives, designers and decorators, as well as the manufacturers and suppliers selected. The company has acted in this capacity for many projects and is widely known for its capabilities in the design coordination and fabrication of exclusive, one-of-a-kind china, crystal, flatware and linen. Additionally, Dahlgren Duck routinely supplements special orders and procurements with standard retail patterns from the best brands. The company’s services include design coordination, product research, budget consultation and specification, procurement, inventory management and shipping.
Could you share an interesting fact about your company?
Jim Dahlgren and I have known each other since the mid 1960s, when we were high school classmates and football teammates. We formed Dahlgren Duck & Associates in 1983. Beginning with a very modest capital investment, product revenues of more than US$100,000,000 have been generated during the company’s 30-year history.
What trends do you see emerging?
Over the years, as the internet has changed the transparency between manufacturers and end users, Dahlgren Duck has continued to create proprietary items and build an exclusive distribution of products for its client base. The relationships the company has formed over 30 years cannot be acquired via the internet, nor is the quality of a product always shown in a picture. Much like when people order the next Hermés Birkin bag, buyers commit to acquire something unseen because they respect and trust our long-standing reputation of providing quality. Since its early beginnings, Dahlgren Duck has provided products of exceptional quality for heads of state, kings, sultans, sheiks, movie stars and even the Pope. The company’s philosophy is to educate the buyer along the way. Unlike the internet and today’s department stores that are there to facilitate a sale, Dahlgren Duck prefers to build relationships for a lifetime. To that end, the company takes pride in providing products that its clients never thought existed, to give them the satisfaction of having something as unique as they are.
Can you share a recent success story?
Over the 30-year history of Dahlgren Duck there have been many success stories involving unique products, ‘impossible’ delivery timeframes where the company came through for the benefit of its clients, and the creation of specific linen qualities to meet the preferences of Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jackson, numerous heads of state and the Pope. However, one of the more recent success stories or compliments was when an iconic US family, whose multigenerational wealth had been accumulated within the hospitality industry, utilised the expertise and resources of Dahlgren Duck to completely outfit their 80,000ft² residence. What made the relationship so interesting was that the family’s own purchasing group for its high-end hotels recommended Dahlgren Duck as the go-to source to meet their personal taste levels.
What are the biggest challenges you’re facing?
One of the biggest challenges Dahlgren Duck is facing is the diminishing pool of resources, manufacturers and artisans, because of the global economic situation. Dahlgren Duck has had the privilege of representing some of the world’s best-known manufacturers, some of whom have not been able to withstand the global economic situation of the past decade. Artisans quietly responsible for some of the world’s most extravagant creations have not had apprentices to follow in their footsteps. Dahlgren Duck continually travels to discover talent and artistry to provide its discerning international client base with unique creations that are conceived specifically for the environment in which they are to be utilised.
This interview was conducted in March 2013.