WEDNESDAY IN L AS VEGAS Jan. 30 2008 Vol. 32 No. 21b Bedding sources ramp up Upholstery starts off strong Spotlighting benefits of better sleep By David Perry Activity defies business climate AT THE MARKET — Facing the prospect of a challenging year By Gary Evans execs saw the atmosphere manufacturer showing in for mattress sales, bedding producers are ramping up their and traffic here as maybe WMC B-1145. marketing messages and putting the spotlight on the benefits AT THE MARKET — Station- an early sign of stabilization Clark said some of the inter- of better sleep. ary upholstery manufactur- and a possible upswing. est resulted from a fine-tuning They said their new lines offer the promise of reduced toss- ers started the market here “We found it to be very of the company’s line — re- ing and turning and cooler, more comfortable sleep, benefits this week with strong atten- steady. It was actually busier scaling products for urban that they hope will resonate with consumers and spark sales. dance and order writing. than we expected because audiences, upgrading fabrics Retailers shopping the category here said they liked what The world within the people usually start in Build- and looks, and expanding its they were hearing about the better sleep messages, according World Market Center seemed ing A and work their way transitional frames. see Bedding, p93 to defy what has been go- here,” said Harold Clark, Based on early results, he ing on in the outside world, vice president of sales and said, “We think we’ll have Nationwide to liquidate? where business has long been mired in a tepid cycle. Some merchandising for Nuance Fine Furniture, a midpriced more than a 20% increase see Upholstery, p93 By Clint Engel NORCROSS, Ga. — Nationwide Mattress and Furniture Ware- house, one of Sun Capital Partners’ earliest industry acquisi- tions, is set to be liquidated, according to industry sources. Bedroom brings out best By Jeff Linville The highly promotional chain, with an estimated 39 stores in 14 states east of the Mississippi River, was cut off by Sun AT THE MARKET — The Capital, a private equity fund that acquired Nationwide out tough retail climate is bring- of bankruptcy in 2002, said a key supplier to the retailer who ing out the best in bedroom asked not to be identified. sources as they play a game Steve Glucksman, Nationwide president, initially declined of one-upmanship in search see Nationwide, p8 of business. Big winner named tonight While some try to beat out the competition on pric- ing, many more are drawing AT THE MARKET — Fifty marketgoers have a chance to get lucky customers with new features tonight at the $250,000 grand prize giveaway in the World Mar- and styles. ket Center’s Fashion 500 Runway Rewards. Wynwood’s opening-day Celebrity host Robin Leach will announce the winner from traffic was up 5% over last among the semifinalists. Sorry, the list wasn’t available at press January, said Lorri Kelley, vice time, but you can check TV monitors in the buildings to see who is in the running. president of sales. She said she Wynwood says its traffic is up this week as dealers look The winner must be present to win. The drawing will be held hasn’t heard retailers saying for exciting goods. This canopy bed with weave-pattern in the Building B atrium starting at 5:30 p.m., and semifinalists see Bedroom, p93 headboard is drawing good attention for the company. must check in at the “winners circle” by 5:45 p.m. It’s right next to the stage. Leach will announce the winner at 6:30 p.m. Exclusive|Reports Soflex shows container-direct leather By Joan Gunin based company launched 1970s, Soflex began distribut- Design Today I N D E X its leather assortment at the ing in the United States under Bedding Today .............. 46 AT THE MARKET — Soflex, at Las Vegas Market in July its own brand in mid-2007. Classifieds ..................... 88 the urging of a big customer, is and has tweaked it to show Earlier, the company was among the latest Asian manu- at other markets, including importing to PMD Furniture Kids Today .................... 84 facturers to export leather up- High Point and Tupelo. The Direct, a Columbus, Ohio- Market events ............... 18 holstery to the United States, latest evolution is on display based Top 100 store that sells Market parties ............... 94 offering container-direct, cus- this week in its World Market through a network of licensed Staff listing .................... 80 tom order and warehousing Center showroom, B-960. retailers and uses a low-over- p58 capabilities. A producer of leather seat- head strategy. PMD sold the w w w. f u r n i t u r e t o d a y. c o m T h e Ta i z h o u , C h i n a - ing in Taiwan since the late see Soflex, p54 54 FURNITURE |TODAY JANUARY 30, 2008 Industry News nese term that means “comfort- new tier of customers with our Soflex able seat.” But, Chiang jested, warehouse.” while leading Furniture/Today About 95% of the prod- from p1 on a tour of the plant, that cus- uct Soflex sells in the United upholstery under its Royal Heri- tomers think the name means, States is stationary, comprising tage brand. “The price is ‘so flexible.’ ” a 3-2-1 mix of traditional and In 2006, PMD President and Soflex operates a 1.4 million- transitional sofa-loveseat-chair CEO Jeff Hosking suggested to square-foot production facility groupings. The company also Soflex President and CEO Ar- on a stark campus here. With produces ottomans, sectionals, thur Chiang that a division be 120,000 square feet dedicated chaises and occasional chairs created solely for the Americas. to U.S. business and another for the U.S. market. Chiang has been producing 230,000 square feet devoted to At its Taizhou facility, Soflex high-end contemporary leather the rest of the world, about 1 employs more than 500 work- seating for European and Asian million square feet remain for ers, about half of whom live in Touring Soflex’s China plant are, front row, Joe Armetta, left, PMD markets out of Taiwan for 30 expansion. dormitories on-site. Furniture Direct, Columbus, Ohio; Arthur Chiang, Soflex; and Jeff years. But in deciding to branch Soflex can now ship 150 to The company is expanding Hosking, PMD. In the back are Larry Mendoza, left, Rose Chiang, out with “more mainstream, 200 containers per month and its leather warehouse, already Tom Schmidt, Jack Chang and Desmond Tan, all of Soflex. affordable furniture” geared has the capacity to reach 300 stocked with $2 million in inven- Europe and yellow for Califor- charge a 5% to 10% upcharge, to the U.S. and elsewhere, he if it adds a second shift or ex- tory with hides from Italy, China nia, the most stringent. but ship FR-approved on every- turned to China. pands a building, said General and South America. Soflex car- “Everything we ship to the thing we make.” However, he did not follow Manager Desmond Tan. ries about seven grades of leather U.S. meets California FR stan- Soflex aims to offer quality, his competitors to the furni- By adding more supple as well as two types each of by- dards,” Schmidt said. “Unlike prompt delivery, reliable service ture hotbeds of Dongguan or leathers, softer cushioning and cast and bonded covers. other companies, we don’t see Soflex, p56 Shenzhen, turning instead to greater seating depth, Soflex In the factory, all of the Taizhou in the Jianshu Prov- U.S. market is familiar is attuned to American seat- leather defects are marked by ince, an emerging commercial ing comfort, said Tom Schmidt, hand and then hand-cut with region first settled more than president and CEO of the com- scissors “to manage the edges 5,000 years ago. Located north of the Yangtze River, Taizhou is a three-hour drive from the pany’s U.S. unit, based in Farm- ers Branch, Texas. Buoyed by the August open- and provide better shaping for a more tailored product,” Schmidt said. to Taiwan entrepreneur bustle of Shanghai. ing of a 120,000-square-foot The facility’s work stations TAIZHOU, China — Although well as high-end catalogs in Under parent Milano Sofa warehouse in the North Dallas are color-coded by fire retardant leather upholstery producer Europe. Co., Chiang created the “Soflex” Design District, Schmidt said, regulations: red for the United Soflex may be new to the He also is involved with brand as a variation on a Chi- “We can now address a whole Kingdom, green for the rest of United States, owner Arthur a case goods factory in Viet- Chiang, a self-made, Taiwan- nam. ese-born entrepreneur who Before producing affordable Have you received settled in Singapore, is not. Involved in export and manufacturing since his leather seating for the U.S., Chiang already was making upscale contemporary leather editorial coverage graduation from university in 1977, Chiang’s first job was with a consumer trading com- upholstery in Taiwan for more than 30 years, marketing it in Europe and Asia. in Furniture/Today ? pany in Taiwan. There he sold home accessories to such U.S. mass market retailers as Price He also operates two high- end contemporary leather specialty stores in Jakarta, In- Club and Kmart. donesia. In 1988, Chiang estab- In 2002, Chiang acquired lished Woodpark Furniture, a an industrial tract in Taizhou. five-factory operation in Indo- He said he opted to build an nesia specializing in upscale upholstery plant there be- Java plantation teakwood and cause case goods plants were wicker furniture for outdoor already abundant in China, use. These high-end contem- and upholstery “represents a porary pieces are sold to Crate high percentage of the retail and Barrel, Smith & Hawken selling floor.” and Restoration Hardware as — Joan Gunin When your company is featured in Furniture/Today, expecting your prospects to read your story isn’t enough... 800-290-5460 ext. 168 you need Reprints. firstname.lastname@example.org RMS is the authorized provider of custom Reprints, Eprints and NXTprints for Furniture/Today. Soflex owner Arthur Chiang stands amid a sea of sofas. 56 FURNITURE |TODAY JANUARY 30, 2008 Industry News Texas warehouse supports Soflex’s quick-ship program FARMERS BRANCH, Texas CEO of Soflex’s U.S. division. containers’ worth of furniture — Leather upholstery maker “The main sprinkler valve per month, said Operations Soflex supports its imported broke underground at 4 p.m. Manager Larry Mendoza. product with a 120,000- on a Friday and we were back Some of the shipments go square-foot warehouse here in operation (in a temporary to a key Soflex customer, PMD featuring quick-ship delivery, space) by Monday morning.” Furniture Direct, a network of Larry Mendoza of Soflex stands in the 120,000-square-foot optimally within three days. At the warehouse, “We more than 100 licensed deal- warehouse in Farmers Branch, Texas, that distributes the The facility, located near have the capacity to keep ers selling upholstery and company’s leather upholstery. Soflex offers same-day shipping the North Dallas Design Dis- product here or, with credit mattresses under the Royal for the Chinese imports with delivery in three days. trict, opened in August and approval, to ship it the same Heritage brand. dealers in 35 states, that’s a “It allows retailers to see in- replaced a warehouse and day anywhere in the (con- Jeff Hosking, president and critical element. My business ventory in real time,” Schmidt showroom that was flooded tinental) United States with CEO of PMD, based in Colum- is based on turning inventory. said. “Dealers can check and in April. delivery in one to four days,” bus, Ohio, said, “Especially in Without that, we would not see if the product they need is “We worked through the Schmidt said. “Our warehouse today’s economic environ- be able to achieve that level available.” night to retrieve merchan- staff and management strive ment, we rely on quick-ship. It of business.” Retailers can order by fax, dise from water that was two to have no backlog — no open ships out the day of the order The warehouse relies on a computer or Internet. No min- inches deep or more,” said orders, only shipped orders.” and gets to my dealers within computer system built by an imum orders are required. Tom Schmidt, president and Soflex ships from 40 to 50 three days at the latest. With in-house team. — Joan Gunin Soflex from p54 and competitive pricing “to give our customers a selling edge,” Tan said. “A trademark of our product is its high quality and the ability to meet the strictest specifications for contract and commercial furniture applica- tions. We have instituted and maintained stringent quality At the end of a workday, employees head to dormitories. About half of the factory’s more than 500 workers live on-site. control measures.” Each frame is bench-made by one person. Upon comple- Sewing is done according to company specifications. tion, finished frames are put on a rolling trolley and transferred to the quality control area for fi- nal review. Every sofa is tagged with the names of the individual cutter, sewer and upholsterer in case of quality issues. “Basically we know who the parents are,” said Tan. Built on hardwood frames Workers use scissors to cut leather hides, resulting in an with additional padding, Soflex efficiently tailored product. offers a good-better-best story to Several sofa styles feature truck or rail to retailers. Custom the U.S. market: removable backs, allowing for orders are shipped in the same At the promotional level, about 160 seats, rather than container as a basic order. the Italiano line features Pire- 110 seats — equivalent to 45% In addition, 12 “very sale- lli webbed seating, 1.8 density Each Soflex product’s frame is built top to bottom by one person. more product — to fit inside able” sofa styles are stocked in foam and sofas priced to retail containers. Texas for same-day shipping, from $699 to $899. The removable backs also Schmidt said. The midpriced Americana provide help in moving the up- Beyond brick-and-mortar line offers No Sag seating and holstery and in flat-packing it players, Soflex has found a 1.8 density foam with pocketed for warehousing purposes. Us- niche with online retailers. coils for added comfort and du- ing vertical clamps, the detach- “Every major e-commerce rability. Sofas are priced from able back tucks neatly into the player visited us in High Point,” $899 to $1,199. underside of the frame. Dealers Schmidt said. He said informed For the higher end, the Royale can assemble the sofa in sec- consumers like to order online line offers eight-way, hand-tied onds for a consumer. because it affords “a better shop- drop-in coil seating with spring Within eight weeks of an ping experience. … It provides down cushioning. Retail pricing order, Soflex containers are access to a lot of information.” is $1,199 to $1,599 depending shipped from Shanghai to Soflex is developing its Web A worker builds an entry-level frame using Pirelli webbing on leather choice. Long Beach, Calif., then sent by site at www.soflexfurniture.com. construction.