By Dennis Seid
TUPELO – The company on which the popular A&E television show “Duck Dynasty” is based has given a license to a Tupelo-based furniture maker to build furniture with its name on it.
For the past several weeks, Prime Designs has been rolling out recliners, sofas and other furniture emblazoned with the logo of Duck Commander, the company founded by Phil Robertson.
The Robertson family is front and center on “Duck Dynasty,” one of the most popular TV shows.
Prime Designs, founded by Tim and Gary Richey in 1994, introduced the line at the High Point (N.C.) Market in October and quickly found a following.
“We knew they were popular, but we didn’t think it would be this popular,” said Prime Designs national sales manager Jerry Marlin. “It’s just taken off.”
Prime Designs, which now employs about 120, is investing $500,000 and adding up to 120 jobs in the next year to build the Duck Commander-licensed products. It already has hired 35 new workers.
Prime Designs was apparently the first furniture manufacturer to approach Duck Commander about licensing the company’s name on products, and the first to get a license.
“‘Duck Dynasty’ is the name of the A&E show, but Duck Commander is the name, the company behind why the show exists,” Marlin said. “We were fortunate to be the first to ask. There have been others after us. And there’s ‘Duck Dynasty’-licensed products, but we don’t have anything to do with that. We’re strictly Duck Commander.”
The idea came from Kurt Kelly, a sales representative with Prime Designs.
He and others were at the Tupelo Furniture Market in February talking about why a Prime Designs recliner couldn’t be used on the television show. And they wondered why nobody had come up with Duck Commander furniture. “Duck Dynasty” has its own licensing agreements with several companies, including Walmart, through A&E.
If you watch the show, you can spot Si now sitting in a Duck Commander recliner built by Prime Designs.
It was in High Point where Tim Richey got a call to visit Duck Commander’s headquarters, which is based Monroe, La. He drove some 850 miles, with a stop to pick up a sample in Tupelo, and met with company officials.
“It was a really big deal,” Richey said. “We weren’t sure if it was going to happen or not.”
The license is good for two years, and Richey said the sales potential of the Duck Commander-licensed line is unlimited.
“It could be $60 million to $100 million – we’re just not sure at this point,” he said.
At the end of the two-year agreement, the two companies will review the results.
“If they’re happy with the results, we can continue the license,” Richey said. “We hope we make them very happy.”
A big selling point was that Prime Designs opted to embroider the logo onto the furniture, rather than have it as a sewn-on decal. In addition, the logo is prominently displayed.