I myself have been in the kitchen wholesale business for thirty years up until the end of last year. I am now retired and what I am about to say I would not have said whilst I was in the industry as I would have lost most of my customers.
The truth is that independent kitchen retailers used to make huge margins and so did the wholesalers. There was no one else to compete with except each other and the price was determined by the big boys who did the wholesaling and distribution and manufacturing. A kitchen retailer would normally make around 30% profit and the rest would be made by the wholesaler,distributor,manufacturer,advertiser,you name them and they all got a big share.But that all changed when Vance Miller came on the scene.
All of a sudden there was this young kid [and he was a young kid at the time] that was out to take control of the industry. Yes I agree that this kid had a wild up bringing and a chequered past but nether the less he was a born grafter and rather more intelligent than most kids with his kind of up bringing.
I met Vance when he had not been in the industry for very long and when I met him he had a wharehouse in Bury in Lancashire and he was buying truck loads a day of second kitchens from one of B&Q'S suppliers and he was retailing and wholesaling them from a scruffy run down wharehouse and to be quite frank no one including myself credited him for what he was about to achieve. How could he make it big? After all he was selling rejects but I suppose that everyone has to start somewhere and without being born with a silver spoon we have to start where we can.
Vance was quite good at his advertising as he took advantage of all the small classified columns in all local news papers all over the UK. One could perhaps say that his skills in advertising were far better than his skills in finding a good kitchen supplier.
Vance became quite famous in the industry for buying up bankrupt stock and end of lines etc. In other words Vance would buy what everyone else didn't want. To be fair this is where Vances reputation came from for selling crap kitchens. Still at this stage he was completely under estimated and was just used within the industry to get rid of your end of lines. To give you an example I remember going to Vances place when he had just took delivery of five trucks full of brand new ovens from Beaumatic. They had found a fault with the oven that it wasn't worth their time to put right but Vance had three engineers stripping the ovens and putting them right again.
Vance soon made enemies of the big boys in the industry. It came to the attention of B&Q that Vance was selling their own kitchens at a fraction of the price that they sold them for and they soon found out how. Because he was buying from their supplier what they did not want. For example Bernsteins kitchen manufacturer and Ram Kitchens were at the time supplying the big boys and Vance was well in with the management there and it suited every one except the big kitchen retailers that Vance would buy up all of the over runs, the seconds,the end of lines,you name it and Vance bought it. He was advertising Homebase kitchens at 75% off,B&Q KITCHENS AT 75% off. The big boys soon put an end to Vance buying all of their stock as it became obvious to them by this time that Vance was damaging them financially.By this time it was to late as the monster egg had hatched and Vance now had enough capital to do the job correctly.
Vance then moved into a much bigger building in Rochdale and I remember visiting him when he was unloading his first set of machinery that he had bought from another kitchen company that had gone bankrupt.It was quite obvious some months later that Vance did not know much about kitchen manufacturing but that kid was so determined that his determination got him through. I had visited Vance many mornings at his factory to sell him goods to find him still in the factory from the night before.I remember seeing once that he had no edge bander so instead he had his staff with irons ironing on the edging tape.
His factory was far too small for the volume of kitchens that he was selling. It was chaos in there but it was the high light of my week visiting Vance.At this stage he was still the laughing stock of the industry , but that was about the last time that he was the laughing stock.
Perhaps it was by luck or just Vances determination to move forward I do not know but around 15 or 16 years ago Vance bought the largest factory I have ever in my life seen. It was Maple Mill in Oldham, the largest mill ever built in the north west and again yes Vance bought it from a company that had gone bankrupt and he bought it for a song.
This was to be the beginning of a new chapter for Vance and a new chapter for the whole kitchen industry.
Within a few weeks of buying the factory he had his machines up and running and he was on a plane bound for China . A man on a mission .
I had seen Vance come from nothing to owning the largest factory in the north west and he was off to Asia to fill it. B&Q had helped to create their biggest enemy. Within not very long Vance had filled that huge factory with containers of hinges,handles,doors,sinks,taps,solid granite worktops,solid oak cabinets and not the normal chipboard offered by his competitors. He was buying granite mines in Mongolia,forest in China and building a huge manufacturing plant on the border of north Korea.
Now it was time for the kitchen industry to get worried and Vance soon changed the way of life for all most kitchen retailers.How on earth could the industry now compete with this kid? He wasn't just manufacturing the kitchens himself but he was manufacturing them in a country with labour rates 10% of those in the UK. He wasn't buying him wood from the local timber merchant but was chopping down his own trees from his own forest.He mined and cut his own granite from his own mine. He didn't buy from wholesalers,distributors or even importers,he did the lot himself. He was now a force to be reckoned with ,and a force that was impossible to compete against.
Out came the big guns from the industry leaders.people with friends in high places,STOP THIS MAN AT ANY COST.
What would you expect the industry to do? Sit back and let Vance walk away with all their fat profit? Vance was selling kitchens at 25% of the price of other retailers and still making a profit. He Became the most hated man in the industry and whilst everyone else spent their time in a propaganda war against him he just motored on ,developing ovens in China,dishwashers,fridges,you name it he was onto it and getting more powerfull by the day. I don't think that any industry has ever experienced the likes of Vance Miller nor will any industry ever experience this kind of a guy.
This industry is not a nice clean industry and when peoples lively hoods are at stake it gets even dirtier.
People within the industry started to blacken his name and the big boys with the friends in high places started to make contact with those friends. Don’t think for two minutes that B&Q don’t have friends in high places of government,friends at the BBC or friends at Trading Standards.Wake up to the real world everyone.
Vance had to be stopped and the big boys had to use the big guns to stop him and hence came along Trading Standards with their accusations that Vances wood wasn’t wood and his granite wasn’t granite. Whatever Vance was selling it was not the real thing according to the law. He sold quad bikes they were deemed unsafe, his wagons were taken off the road,he was banned as a director,he had a new law called a stop now order invented just for him. The list is endless at what the big boys tried to do to stop his operation but he just continued regardless.
The Trading Standards engaged on the largest investigation of all time into Vance Miller, they sent 130 officers to arrest him in what can only be described as a publicity stunt and propaganda campaign to let everyone know that this guys kitchens were fakes. Vance has fought 42 separate criminal charges against the Trading Standards and without lawyers and representing himself won every single one of them. Thank God for the British criminal system.
It isn’t a coincidence that after the trial the head of Trading Standards was sacked after a damming summing up by the judge that said that there was no case to answer and that the case brought by the Trading Standards was an abuse of the courts process and that the head of Trading Standards was over zelous,unproportionate,unfair and without evidence. The judge commented that Trading Standards desire to close down Vance Miller had coloured their thinking.
During the trial Harold Wheatley a Citizens advise employee had admitted under cross examination by Vance Miller that he had indeed tried to blackmail Mr. Miller into handing over his business but only after he was confronted with a secret recording that Vance had made of the meeting with the Citizens Advise employee. T he judge added that it would never be known what the real reason for this prosecution was but that it was not what the Trading Standards had made it out to be.
So the propaganda war against Vance Miller continues. I have personally seen evidence of competitors posting negative comments about Vance Miller on forums like this one. I have even been asked to participate in such.
This propaganda war against Vance Miller will never end until the day that he stops selling kitchens at 25% of the price of his competitors.
Vance Miller is guilty of working too hard and putting too much effort into his career.
I have not seen Vance Miller for over a year as he now lives in China were I believe he operates a huge kitchen manufacturing and retail business but if he is anything to do with this Stilhaus Kitchens then surely this is proof of the man? The company has no outstanding complaints ,none. They offer a pay when you are happy service and their prices are too good to be true,so much too good to be true that it scares people from buying.
There are no critics of Stilhaus Kitchens but just the same old stories of Vance.
Put yourself in the shoes of his competitors. If you cannot compete legit then you have to slag him off. If you are selling shoes for a tenner that cost you a fiver but the guy next door is selling then for two quid are you going to tell your customers that he is a wonderful guy and that his shoes are fine? I don’t think so.
As I am now retired and I have plenty of time on my hands I will be more than happy to answer any questions that anyone would like to ask about Vance Miller and his empire.
I am eagerly awaiting all of the negative comments about Vance Miller that come my way.