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Where Are They Now?: Bill Child, RC Willey

Furniture World News Desk on 11/1/2018

Pictured above is Bill and Pat at the Koloa Landing Resort  with one of their granddaughters and 4 great-grandchildren.
Pictured above is Bill and Pat at the Koloa Landing Resort with one of their granddaughters and 4 great-grandchildren.

RC Wiley is a Home Furnishings company with stores in Utah, Idaho, Nevada and California. The founder, Rufus Call (the RC in RC Wiley) Wiley, started the company selling small electronic appliances in the early 1930’s from the back of his red pickup truck. With electricity being so new, Rufus would lend out appliances for potential customers to try out before they bought them.

In 1950, Rufus built a 600 sq ft store in rural, Syracuse, UT with a population of approximately 500. Surrounded by rural farms, the store had a 9-party telephone line, no bathroom, with electricity running from the house to the store next door. There was just one other employee - a delivery and repair associate. 

Bill Child married Rufus Call Wiley’s daughter in 1951 and took over his father-in-law's appliance business in 1954 on the day he graduated from college. After giving Bill the keys to the store, R.C. was admitted to the hospital with pancreatic cancer and was never able to return to the store before he passed away.  

Bill had just received his teaching certificate and had no desire to take over the operation, which was deeply in debt. However, he had little or no choice and took over the business.  He soon added furniture to the appliance selection in the store and eventually expanded the business and opened a second store in 1969.

In 1995 Bill sold the company to one of the richest men in America, Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway.  He stayed on to manage the company, and eventually turned it over his nephews. This year the company will do close to $1 billion in sales.

After turning the business over, Bill got involved in several successful real estate projects that all turned out very well.

In 2007 he invested in a condominium project on 25 acres on the island of Kauai, but from the beginning Bill had concerns that the project was too big and too far away. He was also worried he might be too old for such a large undertaking.

In 2005 - 2007, condominiums were selling like hot cakes.  Sixty-five of the condos in phase one of the project had been sold and things were looking good. However, when the real estate market collapsed in 2008, condominium prices dropped by over 50 percent.  Sixty-three of the 65 buyers cancelled.  Bill’s partners had no additional money to invest, and banks weren't lending money for condo projects.

Bill was the only partner who was debt-free and could borrow money. Rather than let the project fail, he pledged Berkshire stock to pay off  the financial obligations of the resort. With over 200 people working on the project and expenses at $2 million per month,  Bill was able to cut the expenses in half to keep the project going.  With his experience in the furniture industry, Bill was also able to smartly purchase furniture and carpeting for the resort.

After eight years the real estate market bounced back and he was able to create a first class, four star Hawaiian resort.  He and his partners have completed four expansion phases, added a larger, beautiful pool, convention center and restaurant. 

Bill reports  that the Koloa Landing Resort, a Marriott Autograph Collection on the island of Kauai is now making money and has high occupancy. Bill enjoys inviting furniture industry people to Koloa Landing Resort, giving them a substantial "friends and family discount".  More information can be found at www.alohautah.com. Bill can also be reached through Furniture World by contacting editor@furninfo.com.

More about the Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu: The Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu Autograph Collection, is nestled in the heart of Poipu on Kauai’s sun drenched South Shore. The resort boasts 306 of the island’s largest accommodations, ranging from their ~500 square foot deluxe studios (nearly twice the size of a standard hotel room on Kauai) to their 1, 2, 3, & 4 bedroom villas that range in size from 800 square feet all the way up to 3,600 square feet.

Guests at Koloa Landing Resort experience luxurious amenities including a 4,000 sq ft day spa with 5 private treatment rooms and the island’s only all-copper Ofuro Japanese soaking tub, three gorgeous resort pools – a 350,000 gallon main pool complete with waterslides, swim-through grotto, & poolside cabanas, a 6,100 sq ft family lagoon pool and 2,000 sq ft adults only tranquility pool -all three with poolside BBQs, Jacuzzis, fire pits, and full food & beverage service – and much more.

The property also boasts a gourmet marketplace and poolside bar & grill, dubbed the Holoholo Grill – a collaboration with James Beard award-winning chef, Sam Choy. The grill serves gastro-inspired Hawaiian comfort food.

For guests seeking adventure, the resort has an on-site personal concierge team that can help you book the experience of a lifetime while on Kauai. The on-site Enterprise rental desk can provide exclusive rates on a breezy convertible or off-road capable Jeep, whichever best suits your needs.

For more information, visit www.koloalandingresort.com.