Furniture Makers Nail Down Niche : L.A. Area Firms Earn No. 2 Ranking in U.S. Despite Problems
Robin is watching new machines valued at $600,000 that will automate his company\'s assembly line and help reduce costs.
Robin, owner of the business chairman company, said: \"This is the biggest investment we have ever made . \", the 20-year-
An old company specializing in office chairs.
Automation is the latest approach he has taken to keep his city\'s industrial businesses competing in larger domestic and lower markets
Foreign furniture manufacturers.
Robin admitted that his business was losing money.
But, he said: \"You want to see it grow as you build something.
Like a child.
\"Many furniture manufacturers in the Los Angeles area are considering growth.
Although sales at furniture stores are growing by about 10% per year, furniture manufacturers in the region say this growth is preventing them from achieving ---
Fierce competition has limited the growth of prices and sales.
Los Angeles area--well-
As the capital and major financial center of the film industry--
It\'s also the second unlikely home in this country.
The largest furniture manufacturing industry, which in turn gave rise to the casual \"California look\" in furniture design \".
A healthy economy as a design center and 3,000-
It\'s only a mile from the biggest competitor, all supporting the presence of such a regional furniture industry.
According to the greater Los Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce, five-
Los Angeles County--
Including Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura County-
Company in 1982-
Last year of data available. (
Industry experts estimate that this number has not increased significantly. )
The largest furniture in the country
The region spans western North Carolina and Virginia.
American Association of furniture manufacturers
California furniture manufacturers estimate-
Mainly in the Los Angeles area--
In the country\'s $ 10% home furniture production, the proportion is slightly higher than 13 billion.
Despite the large size of the area, the furniture industry still faces many problems.
Small companies in the region face the possibility of labor shortages in the coming years and are losing imports or being acquired by furniture --
Become a giant on the East Coast
Unlike large furniture manufacturers in the east, furniture
The manufacturing industry in the Los Angeles area is mainly composed of small companies, many of which are owned and operated by self-employed individuals and families.
A company with sales of $35 million in Los Angeles may be considered huge, but it is small compared to its Eastern rivals. North Carolina-
Broyhill Furniture, for example, has annual sales of nearly $0. 3 billion and has more than 7,000 employees.
In companies in the Los Angeles area, couples often serve as secretaries and bookkeepers.
Voice of the factory--
The rotation of the Buzz saw and the beating of the pneumatic short gun and hammer-
Filter through the walls of the front desk and exhibition hall.
Small nicheowners usually have a lifelong interest in their company, and many times family life and business are inseparable.
\"I\'m going to die on a table,\" said Owen Goodman, 68, who founded Los Angeles table maker Mission furniture manufacturing nearly 40 years ago.
Goodman\'s father runs furniture.
Gary, 33, and his son are now working with him.
The furniture business in Los Angeles is not known for its intimacy.
\"It seems like everyone is in their small circle,\" said Linda Cole, 11, vice president of marketing at TrendWest. year-
Manufacturer of old water bed and traditional bedroom furniture.
\"We are all doing our own little things.
\"The growth of this industry is not particularly fast.
Labor force size of national furniture industry--
Indicators used to determine how manufacturing is performing ---
According to David Hensley, a member of the UC Los Angeles business forecasting program, it peaked at 59,200 in 1984.
Employment fell to 58,000 last year and is expected to rebound slightly this year.
However, employment is expected to remain relatively stable by 2000.
Although the growth is not significant, the influence and reputation of the furniture industry in Los Angeles have increased.
Pacific Design Center--a 3-million-square-
Home Display Hall-foot building-
Plans to increase the space of the exhibition hall by nearly onethird.
\"The industry is like this. . .
James Goodwin, vice president of Pacific Design Center, said: \"It is at a peak . \" Furniture manufacturers in the area.
\"We don\'t know where we will go from here.
\"The cost of land is a factor. The Los Angeles area is a special place for the furniture industry to take root.
In North Carolina and Virginia, 200,000-square-
Employs more than 500 workers-
Stroll through the vast countryside.
The land is cheap, the salary is low, there is a large supply of hard wood nearby.
In contrast, in Los Angeles, Martin J. said: \"higher wages, higher land costs, higher rents . \"
Reddan, director of market research, Furniture Association.
The high cost of land largely determines the small size of manufacturers in the region.
In addition, hardwood flooring supplies used in furniture manufacturing-
Oak, white ash, Walnut-
Must be shipped from the east and northwest.
Despite these obstacles, \"Los Angeles is the only big city with important furniture --
Manufacturing, \"said Reddan.
There are two main reasons why companies thrive in the region.
First, California is the largest furniture market in the United States. -
About one country-
According to industry data, the eighth piece of home furniture sold in the United States last year was worth about $26 billion.
Historically, the cost of shipping East Coast furniture manufacturers to ship products to the West Coast market has been prohibitive, which has filled this gap with manufacturers in the Los Angeles area.
\"As the population grows, the number of factories is also increasing,\" Goodman said.
\"But the cost of transportation is reduced.
\"We were well locked west of the Rocky Mountains,\" Robin said . \".
In fact, most of the furniture made in California is sold in the state.
Companies in the region also face other problems :-
The larger East Coast and Midwest manufacturers bought local clothing and set up satellite factories in the region. La-Z-Boy Chair Co.
Michigan and Schnadig Corp.
Illinois has opened a large number of factories in the region. -
From the Far East, low-
Import costs have given domestic manufacturers the opportunity to make money.
Many domestic manufacturers are now assembling furniture parts made overseas.
\"The furniture industry is growing in the US and Los Angeles,\" said Goodman of Mission furniture . \".
\"But I don\'t know how much furniture was made locally or how much furniture was brought from overseas. \"-Small-and medium-
Major customers of small furniture manufacturers-
Bigger national chains have been lost, such as Levitz, who relies on larger manufacturers to complete orders.
\"It just makes it more important to sell to big companies,\" Goodman said . \".
\"There are not enough independents (retailers)to keep busy. \"-
Economists say the new immigration law could cause serious problems for furniture makers.
According to US media reports, in 1979, nearly 35% of the employees working in the furniture factory were Mexican immigrants. S. Census figures.
Economists warn that if the law causes a decrease in the number of migrant workers, furniture manufacturers may be vulnerable to labor shortages, resulting in an increase in labor costs.
\"This is a high degree of labor.
\"Intensive business,\" said Robin, Business chairman . \".
\"Immigration laws will raise labor prices, which in turn will raise prices for products,\" he predicts . \".
\"California wants to compete with bigger competitors, and manufacturers in the Los Angeles area have survived by insisting on specific products.
The commercial chair gave itself a name on the wooden office chair.
Pastel Manufacturing Company
Vernon\'s restaurant is concentrated in expensive glass, iron and stone-like restaurants.
Lee honisseld, 31
The founder of Pastel said that if you come up with a line that looks like someone else, the chances of failure increase.
\"Furniture makers in the Los Angeles area have been betting on what is called a\" California look.
\"The appearance includes oiled oak, light-
Color and Earth
Fabric and casual look.
\"We tend to make things more luxurious and crowded,\" Goodman said . \".
Goodman\'s company is an example of how some domestic manufacturers adapt to foreign imports.
The name of his mission furniture manufacturing companyis a misnomer--
Since closing the East Los Angeles factory two years ago and firing hundreds of workers, the company has not produced furniture.
Instead, the company now distributes imported, ready-made --to-
Assemble Taiwan products.
It also imports expensive marble tables from Italy.
As a result, sales and profits of Mission have increased, Goodman said.
\"I would say it was a rather painful experience,\" Goodman said of his company\'s transformation . \".
\"But it has a good business sense.
\"Furniture makers have also managed to cut transportation costs and expand eastward.
Cole of TrendWest says manufacturers on the east and west coasts often separate the cost of cross-shippingcountry hauls.
For example, a truck carrying a coffin from a coffin manufacturer in North Carolina may return to the east with a pile of water beds.
The overall outlook for the entire furniture industry is quite bright.
\"The baby boomers are at the right age (
Between 25 and 44)
Because I buy furniture now . \"
In the local area, a healthy business environment ensures a stable supply of office furniture and sufficient work for consumers to continue to purchase sofas, tables and beds.
The industry is also pushing people to buy furniture more often.
\"We have to make it a more fashionable industry,\" Cole said . \".
Consumers may be more willing to buy the latest trends than to wait for the spring of the living room sofa to pass through.
This could lead to near
This is the perfect world for furniture makers, says Cole.
\"People may start buying new furniture every year.