New hope for Norwalk Furniture?

Tom Jackson
Mar 23, 2010

 

My colleague Cory Frolik has been all over the Norwalk Furniture saga (latest story here). As this is a big drama involving lots of jobs in the area, I thought I’d pass on a few encouraging words from the New York Times

The Times ran a long business story Sunday on globalization. The gist of the story is that although world trade is hardly going away, rising oil prices have made shipping more expensive and gives a boost to local suppliers.

But what really caught my attention was a section deep in Larry Rohter’s story saying that the situation is giving a boost to the domestic furniture industry.

 “Until recently, standard practice in the furniture industry was to ship American timber from ports like Norfolk, Baltimore and Charleston to China, where oak and cherry would be milled into sofas, beds, tables, cabinets and chairs, which were then shipped back to the United States,” Rohter wrote.

“But with transportation costs rising, more wood is now going to traditional domestic furniture-making centers in North Carolina and Virginia, where the industry had all but been wiped out. While the opening of the American Ikea plant, in Danville, Va., a traditional furniture-producing center hit hard by the outsourcing of production to Asia, is perhaps most emblematic of such changes, other manufacturers are also shifting some production back to the United States.

“Among them is Craftmaster Furniture, a company founded in North Carolina but now Chinese-owned. And at an industry fair in April, La-Z-Boy announced a new line that will begin production in North Carolina this month.

“‘There’s just a handful of us left, but it has become easier for us domestic folks to compete,’ said Steven Kincaid of Kincaid Furniture in Hudson, N.C., a division of La-Z-Boy.”

Comments

Gulliver

I would pay more for a piece of furniture if I knew is was made by local US citizens -- especially if it was made in Norwalk because of who they employ... our friends/neighbors & family.

Anonymous

IMO, high transportation costs are a short-term variable to the overall U.S. problem toward globalization. The weakness of the U.S. dollar is another major factor in fuel increases.

World markets will eventually adjust through innovation and other means to $100 plus bbl. oil and higher fuel costs.

Also, furniture is a consumer discretionary item.

Until the U.S. housing mkt. begins to grow, purchases of furniture will remain sluggish.

With all due respect Gulliver, you write that you’d pay more but at what percentage increase would you decline to purchase a U.S. manufactured product over a high-quality import? Ten, twenty, thirty percent more?