Doug Bassett, president of case goods manufacturer Vaughan-Bassett Furniture, noted that 2016 was tough, particularly for its core bedroom category “We grew in 2014 and 2015, and 2016 has been more of a challenge,” he said. “We grew in the mid-single digits the last couple of years, and it’s been tougher this year.”
He attributed this to an on going weak economic recovery, China office furniture manufacturer lower-than-normal housing starts and election year politics that made business a challenge, particularly in battleground states. “It’s hard for me to remember a really good presidential year,” said Bassett, who said he has been in the business since 1998. “Retailers are unable or unwilling to buy ads…. Presidential (election) years are tough years, and I think that contributed to this being a tough year.” He noted that while bedroom continues to be one of the toughest spots in the industry, he noted that the company’s Artisan & Post solid wood bedroom program launched in April, has boosted the over all business. The China office chair manufacturer company expanded this in October with new bedrooms as well as a new solid wood dining program, its first foray into the dining segment in several years.
As dining begins to ship in 2017, he believes it will strengthen the business moving forward with both existing and new accounts.
This will be driven partly by the company’s plans to inventory the line, which the company said will lead to quicker shipping times than Amish competitors in the categories. But here, too, there will be some competition from resources such as Borkholder Furniture, which last year at this time offered eight- to 10-week deliveries. This year, the company began producing product at the Guangzhou filling cabinet manufacturer plant of its parent company Kountry Wood Products, including its 10-piece Aero collection and 18-piece Madera, both designed by Catina Roscoe. As it builds up inventory there, lead times will drop to two to three weeks, company officials note. The company expects higher growth this year than Furniture Today’s projections, said Tom Halvorsen, vice president of sales. But still, he noted, it wasn’t an easy year.
“The year itself was a year of ups and downs, and unfortunately, there were more downs than ups,” he said. “Most retailers around the country were singing the blues, and that is reflected in business. There were accounts where we grew dramatically and places where we lost some ground. It wasn’t because of what we did—it was because consumers weren’t buying.”
However, he is optimistic moving into a new year. “We are incredibly hopeful having this political situation behind us now, and we are all about pro-business and pro-growth. … We think ‘Made in America’ still has a nice ring to it, and Amish-made has a nice ring to it.”