We wanted to share with you the challenges facing the furniture industry during COVID and answer some questions that you have.   Our manufacturing and logistics partners are facing severe staffing and supply chain challenges due to COVID.

Why your furniture is taking so long?

Staffing issues – Highly Skilled Craftspeople and General Labor Shortages

• For over a year, our manufacturing partners have struggled to be fully staffed. They are often operating at 70% or less of their workforce. Furniture manufacturers depend on highly skilled craftspeople to make beautiful high-quality furniture. These highly trained experienced employees are hard to replace. Many employees did not return due to personal health concerns or other concerns.  Almost every facet of your order is handmade by skilled craftspeople working together (pattern cutters, sewers, frame makers, cushion makers, upholsterers, finishers).  Many employees did not feel comfortable returning under these conditions.  Social distancing is very difficult to maintain for bench-made furniture. Contract tracing often sends an entire group of employees home for ten days or more if they had come in contact with someone who was Covid positive within or outside of the factory. While every manufacturer is under pressure to get orders produced, their number one priority is the health and safety of their employees and families.

• Manufacturers, suppliers, and transport companies face a labor shortage of general warehouse workers as well. So many of these workers decided not to return to work for one reason or another. Many jobs such as wrapping, packing, and loading furniture carefully for transport are critically essential to move the flow of goods. With fewer employees than usual, all manufacturers are having difficulty keeping up with the higher volume.

Supply Chain Issues
• Supply chain shortages have been a significant issue in the furniture manufacturing industry. Due to storm damage to factories earlier in the year, a national foam shortage forced most manufacturers to operate only three days a week due to a lack of materials. This shortage and work stoppage created a cascading effect of delays and a long backlog of orders.
In addition to the foam shortage, many materials such as lumber, steel, fasteners, and other specialized hardware have been in short supply. Our manufacturing partners are dependant on their suppliers for critical parts to produce furniture. These suppliers are often missing their delivery promise dates. All these shortages are creating an almost insurmountable backlog of orders. Shortages are a continuing crisis.

Skilled Craftspeople Make your Furniture

Why are the dates for my custom-made items changing?

Manufacturing is a complex function of scheduling all of the components to go into a piece of furniture. For example, a sofa order generates a multitude of suborders that are needed first: the custom-built wood frame, specialized metal spring components for the seat deck, the selected fabric needs to be ordered and then cut into the specific pieces, individual custom foam panels (outside arm, inside arm, back panel) are custom cut, customized seat, and back cushions. All of these sub-component orders and manufacturing take time and coordination. When all the sub-components are ready, your order is prepared for a specialized team of skilled craftspeople (framers, sewers, upholsterers) to make your beautiful piece of furniture.

The scheduling and sub-component orders are all coordinated by complex, specialized computer software. Under normal circumstances, the computer-generated estimates are accurate and dependable.
During Covid, every level of the manufacturing process has been laden with unpredictable delays. Sub-component orders have been subject to shortages and extended delays. Coupled with labor shortages, our manufacturing partners have had to change their delivery promise dates multiple times. Their software has not been unable to handle the unpredictable challenges from COVID.

Why is the delivery of the furniture taking so long?

Furniture is extremely heavy and easy to damage if not handled properly. We use highly specialized freight companies that are equipped and trained to handle fine furniture. Common carriers are not suited to handle heavy items that are not on palettes and not fit for forklifts. Our furniture items can typically weigh over 250 pounds.

Below is the route your furniture takes from the factory to your home.
• Our specialized freight carriers leave empty containers at all our manufacturing partners. These containers are carefully loaded with your furniture as it is completed and ready to ship.
• These containers are then transported to a large distribution facility in North Carolina. The containers are then carefully unloaded, sorted by region and store, and then eventually loaded on long-haul trucks. These long-haul trucks will bring your furniture to a regional hub.
• Your furniture is then received at a regional transportation hub. Our local transportation hubs are located in PA and NJ. Your furniture is again carefully unloaded, sorted, and prepared to be loaded on a local freight truck that will bring your furniture to our warehouse in Bridgewater. For out-of-area clients, your furniture is transported to a local delivery service warehouse closest to your home.
• Our local delivery service warehouse will receive and carefully inspect your furniture for damages. If your project has multiple furniture items from many different manufacturers, our local delivery service will combine all of your items and start preparing for your in-home delivery. The schedular will work to accommodate all of our local deliveries and any time requests from our clients. Your furniture is then loaded on our local delivery trucks and brought inside your home for you to enjoy.

During normal times your furniture is transported from the factory to our local warehouse within two weeks following the complete route above. Currently, due to a severe shortage of warehouse labor, each step listed is taking about two weeks (1)picking up trailers (2) unloading, sorting, and shipping to local hub (3) unloading, sorting, and shipping from local hub to our warehouse (4) receiving, inspecting and scheduling local delivery from our warehouse.

This severe shortage of employees is causing the entire shipping and delivery process to take about 6-8 weeks from when your furniture is completed to when it is delivered to our local delivery service.  Please note the additional time needed to deliver the furniture into your home.

This is an unprecedented time and has created immense challenges. The furniture business is a people-centered industry from manufacturing to logistics. While keeping everyone’s health and safety at the forefront, everyone is committed and doing everything possible to deliver your furniture to you as soon as possible. We understand profoundly how important our homes are to us and appreciate that you have chosen us to provide you with quality furniture and interior design. We know that these delays are incredibly disappointing and frustrating. We will do our best to keep you updated on the status of your furniture. We hope that you will love your furniture for years to come.