Earlier this October, we held our second True Design Council in St. Louis, MO. – Where our parent company, True Manufacturing, began more than 70 years ago in the garage of visionary founder, Bob Trulaske. We established the Design Council in 2018 as a means to give designers an insider look at our manufacturing process and daily operations and let them get to know the brand first-hand. While we often host various sales teams around the country at our headquarters, we felt offering an immersive True brand experience to designers would be an incredible way for them to really understand the handcrafted, nuts-to-bolts nature of our manufacturing processes. Hosting designers and media also allows us to gather feedback and gain insight into the current design landscape and a look ahead at what’s next in the luxury residential market.
Our attending designers spanned the country and included John Douglas Eason of John Douglas Eason Interiors (NYC), Lori Paranjape of Mrs. Paranjape (Nashville, TN), AnnBritt Newey of ABN Design (Saratoga Springs, NY) Christopher Coleman of Sanchez + Coleman (Miami, FL + NYC) Rame & Russell Hruska of Intexture (Houston, TX), Bonnie Steves of Bonnie J. Steves interior Design (NYC), Matthew Frederick of M. Frederick Design (Morristown, NJ) and True Residential brand ambassador, Vanessa Deleon of Vanessa Deleon Associates (Edgewater, NJ + NYC). This year, we also invited a few members of the media. Kim Cook, a frequent writer for the Associated Press, Annie Block, Executive Editor at Interior Design, and editor Claire Butwinick of soon-to-go-international, Seattle-based magazine, Gray—to great success.
As a family-oriented, St. Louis-based company, we understand the importance of fostering relationships and showcasing just why we love our hometown so much. To that effect, we kicked off the first night of the trip with a merry cocktail hour and dinner held at Sidney Street Cafe, helmed by renowned Chef Kevin Nashan and hosted by the True’s current owner (and son of founder Bob Trulaske), Steve Trulaske and his wife Lisa. While Nashan happened to be in New York at the time of our dinner (on invitation from Chef Daniel Boulud), his brother, Chris Nashan, came out to greet everyone and offer a wonderful preview of the delicious tasting menu that was to come. It lived up to the hype! As night one wrapped up with good spirits, and newly budding bonds, we chauffeured our guests back to the recently renovated, historic Chase Park Plaza in Central West End (where guests were gifted goodie bags that included a split of prosecco, an Ooey Gooey Butter Cake—a St. Louis favorite—and other treats).
On day two, the True Res team led the Design Council on an eye-opening, behind-the-scenes tour. Andrew Shead, Marketing Manager for True Residential, explained each process from start to finish—exemplifying the meticulous quality control True is able to maintain by doing everything in-house. From the custom powder-coated finishes, to the weekly product checks, and individual sign-offs on each line duty item, and even to the shipping boxes custom-crafted for each appliance—Design Council members were able to see exactly how and why True’s products are built to last. Following the factory tour, editor Annie Block led an engaging conversation on the “The Shifting Media Landscape.” A fun tour of the True Residential Showroom and a roundtable discussion on the “State of the Industry and What’s Next” followed. A memorable night full of laughter, great conversation, and dinner and drinks at St. Louis’s much-loved Brasserie by Niche by Chef Gerard Craft rounded out the day.
The next day, Design Council attendees enjoyed some sightseeing in downtown St.Louis. Our excursions included a tram ride up to the top of Eero Saarinen’s iconic 630-foot-tall Gateway Arch and a quick visit to the Old St. Louis Courthouse—a gorgeous 19th-century building with a mesmerizing interior rotunda. Fun fact: the Courthouse was the site of pivotal cases, including where Virginia Minor fought a case for women’s right to vote. After a wonderful farewell lunch, a few of our Council members were able to fit in a last sightseeing mission at the St. Louis Art Museum. All in all, we felt it was a fantastic experience all around, and it appears our guests did too! We appreciated all of the feedback. Annie Block wrote, “Visiting the headquarters as a member of the True Design Council allowed me to fully immerse myself in the brand’s vision. It’s global but also local—True product is impeccably and responsibly made, and it’s done so right in Missouri, USA.”
Matthew Frederick adds, “The True Design Council offered a great opportunity to experience first-hand the inspiring story and value of the True Residential collection. The factory tour is an amazing walk-through, a chapter of a true American Story that speaks to enduring product value, expert craftsmanship, and the highest quality in a premier luxury product. The addition of world-class culinary excursions and being among top-tier design professionals in a casual peer setting really made my participation a memorable experience, and one that I would suggest to any interior or kitchen design professional operating in the luxury market today.” A testament to True Residential as a brand, the design council trip also brought to the forefront the amount of work and effort designers, architects, and media place into understanding what they are offering their clients and readers. Additional, thoughtful testimonials from our Design Council are below.
“In the fast-paced world of design, it is often easy to overlook the details, especially if they are not visible to the eye. Yet, often what is invisible to the eye is sometimes just as important as what is visible. Having the opportunity—as part of the True Residential Design Council—to go behind the scenes to see the business model and factory of True Residential was incredibly eye-opening.
The experience allowed us to not only witness first hand a business that is practical and intelligent, but one that is about vertical integration and thoroughly vested in a team that cares and is motivated. It doesn’t stop with the business practice if you were to look inside the products you see that every microscopic element is considered down to deburring the interior walls so that anyone doing any work does not get abrasions! Proving that True not only cares but is thoughtful!” –Bonnie Steves
“True’s products speak for themselves! Every model has a beautiful, sleek design with custom powder-coated colors and an array of metal hardware finishes to coordinate with any kitchen design (inside and out). However, it is so much more than that. Having recently had the pleasure and honor of being a part of the True Design Council, I was able to tour the factory to really understand the nuts and bolts of the product—quite literally! The factory is impressively large with endless detailed and highly-specific machinery, and not to mention happy employees (they have amazing workplace benefits for their staff—always a great sign of a good company).
One of the most impressive takeaways is that True production is vertically integrated. This is huge! It means that True has control over all of the aspects of production from the creation of the door hinges to the stacking crates they use to ship. This control ensures quality, timeliness and consistency. And this, in turn, gives me complete peace of mind when specifying a True product for a client. The other aspect I loved learning about was the marriage between the commercial refrigeration and the residential brand. Not only did True engineer a residential product with commercial-grade components, but they also produced designs that cater to work and beverage stations (more common in commercial kitchens). This is extremely attractive to my clients who love to cook! Overall, after spending a few days with the True folks, it was obvious that everybody involved in the company was passionate about their business and eager to continue to grow and stay at the forefront of the design scene. I am far from surprised that this family business is a leader in the luxury refrigeration market!” –AnnBritt Newey