Current Issue - American Home Furnishings Alliance

Furniture
Executive
The
WHAT’S BEHIND
WORKFORCE
SHORTAGE? | pg 2
PUBLISHED AS A MEMBER SERVICE BY THE AMERICAN HOME FURNISHINGS ALLIANCE
Future Focus: What’s Ahead for
Furniture Manufacturing?
DECIPHERING THE FUTURE OF U.S. MANUFACTURING
is no easy task. After examining trends in
world economies, demographics, education and American attitudes toward
skilled-labor careers, some prognosticators are calling for a manufacturing
renaissance. Others examine the same
trends and forecast severe labor shortages that will further erode the U.S.
manufacturing base.
AHFA executives attending the
spring Manufacturing Summit at Mississippi State University will hear from
one of the country’s top authorities on
the subject: Dr. Harold Sirkin, a senior
partner and management director at the
Boston Consulting Group in Chicago,
as well as a professor at Northwestern
University’s Kellogg School of Management. In 2013, Sirkin co-authored a
study, “The U.S. Skills Gap: Could It
Threaten a Manufacturing Renaissance?” in which he concluded that
companies would have to be intentional
in their efforts to develop and train the
machinists, welders, industrial machinery mechanics and industrial engineers
they will need by 2020.
Sirkin's Summit presentation will be
part of a day-long examination of the future of manufacturing slated for
Wednesday, March 18, at the Franklin
Furniture Institute on the campus of
Mississippi State University. AHFA is
once again collaborating with the
Franklin Furniture Institute for an exceptional program exploring the principal
issues in manufacturing today. Also participating in the 2015 Summit are the
University of Southern Mississippi’s
Continued on page 3
FEBRUARY 2015, VOLUME 32. NO. 2
CLEARING CONFUSION
OVER ‘COM’ LABELING
AHFA has received clarifying guidance
from the State of California on the
proper labeling for custom furniture produced using the customer’s fabric –
commonly known as a “COM” order.
As long as the fabric specified by the
customer is new, the resulting piece of special order upholstery should carry a white
law label in the State of California.
Some companies have been using a
green law label for COM upholstery.
This is because the California Code of
Regulations states that a green label shall
be used for “Owner’s Material.”
However, California’s definition of
“owner’s material” is not the same as the
industry’s definition of “Customer’s
Own Material,” or “COM.”
AHFA staff members discovered this
discrepancy in the use of terms for custom upholstery as they were seeking
guidance from California officials on labeling requirements within the TB
117-2013 flammability standard.
In October, AHFA asked the California Bureau of Electronic and Appliance
Repair, Home Furnishings and Thermal
Insulation (BEAR-HFTI) to review
Continued on page 3
FRONT BURNER Priority issues and events in February
OSHA WORKSHOPS AHFA will
sponsor two OSHA compliance
workshops this spring. Whether you
have an employee who is new to
OSHA compliance duties or have someone who just
needs a refresher course, these workshops will offer a
comprehensive overview in one day-long session.
The first workshop is slated Wednesday, March 4,
at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Hickory, N.C. A second
workshop will be Wednesday, May 13, at the Franklin
Furniture Institute on the campus of
Mississippi State University in
Starkville, Miss. Programs at both locations will be the same and will be
presented by an authorized OSHA trainer. Topics will include record keeping, lock out-tag out, machine
guarding, HAZCOM revisions to address “global harmonization,” how to handle an OSHA inspection and
more. Register for these events on the Events page at
www.ahfa.us. 
February 2015 | page 1
www.ahfa .us
CHAIRMAN’S
MESSAGE
Kevin Sauder, President/CEO, Sauder Woodworking Co.
What’s Behind Our Industry’s
Workforce Shortage?
February 2015 | page 2
www.ahfa .us
According to recent reports, those of us with U.S.-based factory jobs aren’t the only ones feeling the squeeze. The lack of
interest in and negative perception of the manufacturing sector
among younger prospective workers, in particular, impacts those
of you who need designers, marketing experts and operations/
logistics personnel for your import operations, as well.
One idea that seems to be
catching on is an industry-sponsored Manufacturing Day,
during which companies host
tours for high school and/or
community college students. In
December, Sauder hosted student groups from several local
high schools. When we spoke
with guidance counselors, we
discovered that there are many
high school students who aren’t
a natural fit for a four year college, yet they would like to get
started in a good career with growth and learning opportunities. At Sauder, these young people could learn a skill,
supplement that skill with technical education through our
local community college and, in a short amount of time, be
well on their way to a fulfilling career.
Our Manufacturing Day tours emphasized career opportunities in machine operations, quality, IT, customer service,
sales administration and other interesting areas. Students and
counselors were surprised at the cleanliness of our facilities,
the high-tech machinery and quality measuring devices, the
computer-based job opportunities, the scale of our operations
and the friendliness of our people.
In the weeks to come, some of you will be contacted by
researchers working on AHFA’s behalf to find out what types
of job openings you have now, how you train your workers,
what percentage of your work force will be retiring in the next
3 to 5 years and more. We hope you’ll welcome the contact
and help supply the insights we need to address our industry’s
workforce needs. We can all benefit from a workforce development program that draws talented young people to our
industry. 
Photo courtesy of C.R. Laine
SAUDER HAS GREAT EMPLOYEES, AND WE NEED A LOT MORE RIGHT
now. Our business is up double digits in the last four months.
We’re working heavy overtime, but we still can’t keep up with
the demand.
We hired 70 new employees at the end of 2014, and we
began the year with nearly 50
open positions to be filled.
Our employee shortages
have forced us to modify our
production schedule and tell
our retail customers that they
may be out of stock on some
items for weeks at a time.
Unemployment in our fourcounty area of Ohio averages
around 4 to 5 percent. It’s just 5
percent statewide, so it is difficult
for us to find good employees.
Likewise, in North Carolina the
unemployment rate was 5.3 percent at the end of the year.
Elsewhere in furniture-producing regions, however, unemployment is higher. In November it was 7.2 percent in
California; 6.8 percent in Tennessee; and 7.3 percent in Mississippi. All of these are strong upholstery-producing states.
Looking forward, Sauder needs to hire another 100-plus
employees in 2015 for our new IKEA lines. Sauder has career opportunities right now and into the future.
So how can we, as an industry, find and retain good people? At Sauder, our human resources team has been working
with the operations team to develop new ways to do recruiting,
interviews and orientations. We’re working with our outside
employment agencies and doing more advertising to get the
word out. We also raised the starting pay for full-time and temporary employees to help attract and retain workers.
Our business is unique – we’re a U.S.-based, large-scale
manufacturer of ready-to-assemble furniture – but there are
other segments of our industry experiencing similar labor
shortages. In fact, the need is so acute in the upholstered manufacturing sector that AHFA’s supplier division, now known as
Solution Partners, is about to embark on an initiative to research ways to address the need for skilled workers.
MEMBER
NEWS
Where to Find It…
THIS IS THE FOURTH INSTALLMENT IN OUR
continuing series on the navigation
tools within AHFA’s new website,
www.ahfa.us. This month we highlight
the Events page.
Details on programs, registration
fees and hotel accommodations for
AHFA education events are always
posted on the AHFA website as soon as they become available.
There are two ways to find an event of interest:
1) The most current upcoming events are always listed on the
website home page. You’ll find them under the words UPCOMING EVENTS in the righthand column, directly underneath the
blue “Join AHFA Today!” box. Click on your event of interest to
go directly to the information page for that event.
2) If your event of interest is several months away, or if you
don’t know the date and don’t see it listed on the home page,
click either on the words UPCOMING EVENTS at the top
of the column, or the words See Full
Calendar of Events at the bottom of
the column.
Once you are on the Events page,
scroll down through the calendar until
you find your event of interest. Clicking
on a trade show or non-AHFA sponsored event (in blue) will take you to the
registration page for that event on the organizer’s website. Clicking on an AHFA event (in gold) will take you to a page
dedicated to that event with details such as the agenda, speaker
bios, registration form, hotel link (if applicable) and any other
pertinent details.
After an event, if you are looking for slide presentations or
handouts, these will be posted under the Education link.
If you have any questions or comments about AHFA’s new
website, contact AHFA’s Vice President of Communications,
Pat Bowling, at [email protected] 
Manufacturing Summit
COM Label
Continued from page 1
Continued from page 1
Center for Logistics, Trade and Transportation; MSU’s Extension Service and the MSU Forest and Wildlife Research
Center.
Also slated to speak on the future of manufacturing in
Mississippi and the surrounding region is former MSU president and the current chancellor emeritus of the University
of Alabama System, Dr. Malcom Portera. The program also
includes a panel discussion on the future of logistics and
transportation in manufacturing that will be moderated by
Dr. Chad Miller, director of the University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Logistics, Trade and Transportation.
Panelists include experts in the areas of highway transportation, rail transportation, container traffic and logistics.
Finally, AHFA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Bill
Perdue will address the future of the legislative and regulatory landscape for manufacturing.
Registration will open at 8 a.m. The program will run
from 8:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Registration is $99 and includes
lunch, breaks and conference materials. Find a link to the
registration page at www.ahfa.us on the EVENTS page.
A block of rooms has been reserved at the Hilton Garden Inn located in Starkville, Miss. The group rate of $119
per night can be obtained by calling the hotel directly at
662/615-9664 and requesting the Manufacturing Summit
rate. For more information, email [email protected] 
sample TB 117-2013 compliance labels, including a green
one for “upholstered furniture using Owner’s Own Material.”
Bureau officials advised AHFA that the green law label
could not be combined with the TB 117-2013 compliance
label, because “custom upholsterers are only adding material to
a product, and old materials still remain in the product.” Therefore, BEAR-HFTI concluded, “placing a TB 117-2013
flammability label on a product that contains, in part, old materials, would not be appropriate.”
This explanation alerted AHFA staff that the Bureau’s definition of custom upholstery did not match the industry’s.
“At that point, we reviewed the language in the California
Code of Regulations and discovered that ‘owner’s own material’ probably was not intended to refer to a custom fabric on
a new piece of furniture,” explains Bill Perdue, AHFA’s vice
president of regulatory affairs.
“Rather, it refers to an article of furniture ‘received from
the owner.’ The green label requires the manufacturer or reupholsterer to certify that the end product is the same one that
was received from the owner, for the exception of any new materials added in the process of repair or re-upholstery.”
After an exchange of emails with Bureau officials, AHFA
received this guidance: “If a product is manufactured using all
new materials, outside cover fabric included…the manufacturer
must follow the white law label requirements.” 
February 2015 | page 3
www.ahfa .us
P.O. Box HP-7
High Point, North Carolina 27261
Telephone 336/884-5000
Fax 336/884-5303 www.ahfa.us
2015 CALENDAR
FEBRUARY 18
MARCH 18
MARCH 24-25
APRIL 18-23
JUNE 24-26
AUGUST 2-6
ICFA BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEETING
Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel
Orlando, FL
RETURN SERVICE REQUESTED
MANUFACTURING SUMMIT
Franklin Center • Mississippi State University
Starkville, MS
AHFA BOARD OF DIRECTORS MEETING
The Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City
Arlington, VA
HIGH POINT MARKET
ANNUAL MARKETING MEETING
The Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City
Arlington, VA
SUMMER LAS VEGAS MARKET
SEPTEMBER 16-19 INTERNATIONAL CASUAL FURNITURE
& ACCESSORIES MARKET
OCTOBER 17-22
HIGH POINT MARKET
For details on AHFA events, go to www.ahfa.us.
MEMBERS CONTINUE SAVING
WITH FUEL DISCOUNT PROGRAM
In 2014, AHFA’s fuel discount program produced
the largest savings per gallon for member companies in the history of the program.
The rapid reduction in the cost of crude oil in
the fourth quarter of 2014 and the slowness of the
truck stops to drop the posted price per gallon produced an average margin for the truck stops of
almost $0.90 per gallon. As of January 13, 2015,
AHFA members were saving an average of $0.73
cents per gallon. Companies fueling consistently
within the AHFA network were achieving savings of
over $0.80 cents per gallon.
The advantages to participating in the AHFA
fuel discount program have never been greater. For
additional information, please contact Jeff Beaumont at 540-989-3836 or email him at
[email protected] 
STAFF
Andy S. Counts C H I E F E X E C UTI V E O F F I C E R
email: [email protected]
336/884-5000
Patricia N. Bowling V I C E P R E S I D E NT O F C O M M U N I CATI O N S
email: [email protected], 336/881-1006
Jaclyn C. Hirschhaut V I C E P R E S I D E NT O F P U B L I C R E L ATI O N S
A N D M A R K E TI N G
email: [email protected], 336/881-1016
Mary O’Keeffe D I R E CTO R O F S A L E S
email: [email protected], 336/881-1010
Bill Perdue VICE PR E S I DE NT OF R EG U LATORY AFFAI R S
email: [email protected], 336/881-1017
David Purvis VICE PRESIDENT OF MANUFACTURING
AND OPERATIONS
email: [email protected], 336/881-1036
International Casual Furnishings Association
Executive Director: Jackie Hirschhaut, [email protected]
Solution Partners
Executive Director: Andy Counts, [email protected]
Specialized Furniture Carriers
Executive Director: David Purvis, [email protected]
The Furniture Executive is published monthly by
the American Home Furnishings Alliance.