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Zephyr Ventilation
A hot designer helps a maker of kitchen ventilation hoods turn up the heat.
August 1, 2005: 8:35 AM EDT
By Julie Sloane, Fortune Small Business

NEW YORK (Fortune Small Business) - Target has its Philippe Starck, H&M has its Karl Lagerfeld, and now Zephyr Ventilation has its Fu-Tung Cheng.

Zephyr, a $20-million-a-year San Francisco-based manufacturer of kitchen ventilation hoods -- filters built in above stovetops to absorb smoke and fumes -- is on track to double its revenues in three years by partnering with Cheng, an award-winning Berkeley-based designer, for a product line called Cheng Design by Zephyr.

KITCHEN CONNECTION: Alex Siow, 34, founded Zephyr in 1997 when he began importing range hoods from Taiwan.

Cheng, meanwhile, was designing high-end kitchens and bathrooms, custom-creating his own $15,000 hoods. Cheng, 56, had approached Viking and SubZero to try to bring his designs to the masses, but they passed.

In 2000, Siow spotted a Cheng creation and realized how sophisticated the traditionally plain hoods could be. In 2003, Siow approached Cheng about a partnership.

HOT PRODUCT: The duo expected their first shipment of 300 hoods to sell out in six months; it sold out in two. Those units, bought by showrooms, went on display in January.

Siow has lofty expectations of selling 1,200 units in 2005 at prices ranging from $2,800 to $6,800 (Cheng takes a 10 percent to 20 percent cut of the profits). Within three years Siow expects to sell 4,000 a year.  Top of page

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