Chris Tosdevin Design & Consulting Inc.
Amid the onset of the recession in 2008, Chris Tosdevin, now president of Santa Monica-based Chris Tosdevin Design & Consulting Inc. (Bulthaup Santa Monica), made a bold move. After 30 years of working for the German high-end kitchen manufacturer Bulthaup, Chris opened his own independent dealership of the acclaimed international manufacturer. Chris established Bulthaup Santa Monica to focus on giving the best quality of design, service and value for money.
“Having my own dealership was something I always wanted to do,” shares Chris. “I’ve been in the industry since 1982. My first encounter with Bulthaup, after I graduated from studying interior architecture, was whilst working with an architectural firm on a residential job. I was put in charge of interiors, and on the project became friends with the owner of the local Bulthaup dealership. He liked my designs and later invited me to work with him.”
Building Bulthaup USA
After collaborating closely with Gerd Bulthaup, son of Martin Bulthaup, who founded the company in 1949, Chris was asked to move from London to established Bulthaup’s first U.S. showroom in Los Angeles in 1990. “Then as president and CEO of Bulthaup USA, I established the foundation for a further 16 corporate and independent dealers throughout the U.S.,” Chris explains. Together with his wife, Ruth, in 2008 Chris finally launched his own independent Bulthaup dealership in Santa Monica.
Together, the pair divided their skills; with Chris as the driving design force and Ruth as the showroom administrator. Since the showroom’s inception, Chris continues to work with many of his established relationships within top contemporary architects and design firms in the U.S. and internationally, developing design parameters, design concepts, partnering with project professionals, assisting in the selection of materials and appliances, as well as CAD plans and detailed mechanical drawings.
Chris’ early goal was, and continues to be, simple: offer 30 years of kitchen design experience and service, which ultimately gives the best value. “When I started the dealership I felt like we had a good chance despite the economy because of the 20 years of relationships I had to fall back on,” he explains. “To start a business after the recession with no connections would be very risky; relationships are everything.”
Bulthaup Santa Monica continues to build strong relationships by following through on its promises. “We’re passionate about what we do and we care about the service we’re giving our customers,” ensures Chris.
The hub of the home
Chris and Ruth continue to deliver superior quality and custom Bulthaup kitchen products, creating more than a functional space, but the heart and soul of the home. “A kitchen is not only a place where people cook, it’s a place where people communicate,” explains Marc. O. Eckert, CEO of Bulthaup. “Everything we do is about quality and precision and an eye for detail; this is the foundation of Bulthaup.”
“A Bulthaup kitchen is a handmade product; it’s a customized product,” continues Eckert on the Bulthaup approach. “It fits perfectly into peoples’ homes because every home is different and the needs are different. The kitchen is a place where you have no boundaries. It’s more than the look of the product but how people feel when they live, cook and communicate in a Bulthaup kitchen.”
As an independent dealer, Chris and Ruth have delivered the Bulthaup philosophy across southern California, serving the needs of residents in Santa Monica, the South Bay of Los Angeles, Brentwood, Malibu and surrounding areas. “We specialize in high-end, custom residential kitchens,” shares Chris. “In-house, we do design, final shop drawings and suggested mechanical layouts to help the general contractor prep the space. We also supply the appliances and refer a trusted network of installers to the contractor. We have authorized installers that we’ve worked with for more than 20 years. I refer them and they bid directly to the contractor.”
Chris has played a role in a range of luxury kitchen new construction and remodels over the last 20 years, even for the likes of celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse. “We designed kitchens for two of Emeril’s private residences, which led to many more private kitchens, including Emeril’s corporate headquarters test kitchen, which is used by several full time chefs testing all of the recipes for Emeril’s television shows and many restaurants,” Chris explains.
Chris adds that he is flattered by the architects and clients who believe in the quality, design and services offered by the company. “They fly in from places like Aspen, Vail and San Francisco,” he says proudly.
Indeed, operating in the high-end residential market isn’t always a walk in the park, especially when the recession hit in 2008. “The market froze for a while just as we were getting started,” shares Chris. “We were fortunate to have great relationships to start a business in such trying times. We’ve seen a strong uptick for 2014, but I’m cautiously optimistic because there are many outside influences we can’t predict.”
Chris continues to rely on longstanding relationships and repeat business today. “I would say about 80 percent of our business is referral-based,” reveals Chris. “It’s great to hear from past clients, 10 to 15 years later, that still rave about their Bulthaup kitchen, from how it functions to how much it’s impacted the quality of their life. We try to give clients great design and value for their money and that makes me content.”
Since 2008, Chris Tosdevin Design & Consulting Inc. has brought the Bulthaup approach to the West Coast, delivering the most value on the market in custom kitchens.
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