Barcana Inc: Nature Made Better
Barcana Inc. (Barcana) is a family business that has been producing an increasingly diverse line of ornamental items for three generations. “It began as a décor business,” says Peter Barthelmess, current president of Barcana and the grandson of the founder. “They were doing window decorations, mannequins, trees and seasonal decorations.”
The international company began in Germany after World War II and moved around several times before establishing headquarters in the United States. Barcana was the first company to bring manufacturing to the island of Malta, shipping products to the U.S. from the American military base on the island. The business then relocated to North America with factories in Quebec, California and New York and showrooms in California, New York, Texas and Georgia. Currently it maintains its headquarters in Buena Park, Calif., but no matter where it stakes a claim Barcana has always delivered innovative items that meet the market’s needs. For example, the company is one of the oldest manufacturers of artificial Christmas trees.
Barcana produces artificial trees, wreathes, garlands, 150 Trees remain the bread and butter of Barcana’s business. “Our flagship is the Barcana name itself,” explains Barthelmess. “Everyone knows us and our trees, such as the Alaskan Fir Deluxe that is very popular.” The trees come in nearly 50 different styles and sizes with custom options available. “There are different kinds of lighting; you can have incandescent or LED,” Barthelmess continues. “We manufacture a 70-foot tree for custom orders, but we keep 25-foot trees in stock. We also have a wreath that is 16 feet in diameter.”
The company’s products are particularly popular in malls. Barcana is one of the only businesses producing large-scale decorations for a variety of holidays. The catalog includes plush Christmas chairs finely accented with gold paint, as well as the world’s largest mass-produced nutcrackers. Scrolling through the pages of Barcana’s online ordering system is like online shopping at a Pier 1 Imports for the North Pole.
For clients who want to move away from the commercialization of Christmas, Barcana also produces a variety of manger-scene figures. The large, lightweight sculptures of Mary, Joseph, Jesus, Wise Men, shepherds and animals are subtly detailed. The manger scenes have appeared at churches and homes around the country yearly for decades, offering serene outdoor scenes every holiday season.
Moving Overseas Without Oversight
For many years, all of Barcana’s products were manufactured in the United States, but foreign competition began to pick up. “Chinese companies had begun to reproduce our products,” explains Barthelmess. “We had some tough decisions to make – either join them or drown.” The business was forced to consolidate its factories before eventually phasing all of the production to China.
“We started to work with partners to establish the production and high-quality standards in China,” says Barthelmess. “I wanted to make it even a better product and at the same time take advantage of lower costs of production to use better materials.” His customers initially favored the American-made trees, but soon came to realize that the Chinese-produced trees were of equal quality or better and were offered at a lower price.
Even though all its items have been produced overseas since 2000, Barcana isn’t just outsourcing; the company partnerships with all of the facilities abroad in order to assure quality control. “We’re manufacturers, not importers,” Barthelmess explains. “It’s all our copyrights, our patents and our designs.”
Barthelmess’ plan for the company is to continue diversifying the brand. He remains dedicated to the classic products, but maintains that it is important to keep up with trends. “People come to us for high-end trees and lights, and we’re always taking advantage of new technologies to efficiently produce attractive decorations,” he says.
Barcana’s dedication to innovation results in a larger selection for customers, many of which have shown longtime loyalty to the brand. Creating new products delivered with cheerful attention to detail worthy of any holiday, Barcana Inc. will continue to use its efficient logistics chain to fulfill customers’ needs year-round. •