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West Mich. furniture industry impacted by supply chain shortages

About 14% of the world's office furniture is manufactured here in West Michigan. Companies have had a tough 18-plus months, with some redefining how they do business

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — There are advantages and disadvantages of working remotely.

One local economist says it’s had a big impact on the furniture industry.

About 14% of the world's office furniture is manufactured here in West Michigan. Companies have had a tough 18-plus months, with some redefining how they do business.

The Grand Rapids Chair Company’s new line of office furniture offers comfortable pieces with bright pops of color. It’s just one of the ways the business is trying to turn things around.

“Last year we had a lot of problems and they’re really really bad, this year we still have a lot of problems, just good problems. But we still have some of those lagging problems from last year," said Geoff Miller, president of Grand Rapids Chair Company. 

It wasn’t until April of this year that demand rose for the commercial furniture manufacturer, but now supply chain issues are presenting a new challenge since the company uses specialty parts for some of its pieces.

“If any part of your supply chain is outside of the U.S. it’s very much impacted transportation cycles from those suppliers to your location," Miller said.

RELATED: West Michigan's largest furniture manufacturers to require COVID-19 vaccine


For at least one local residential furniture producer, the story is a little bit different.

“We’ve experienced very substantial increases in material costs. Labor costs are higher as well. So, we’ve seen a lot of inflation. We’ve also seen our business grow," said Rob Burch, president & CEO of Kindel Grand Rapids.

With 120 years of experience in the furniture industry, Kindel Grand Rapids hasn’t had to raise prices by much to gain a competitive advantage.

“Because we’re a domestic resource and we make pretty everything completely in our factory in Grand Rapids here we’re able to ship in what’s turned out to be great lead times," Burch said.

Kindel has adapted its business model, introducing a work from home furniture collection, an attractive option for the 45% of U.S. employees still working partly or fully at home.

It’s a mixed bag for commercial and resident furniture manufacturers here at home.

These companies have also had to raise wages among an ongoing worker shortage.

The struggle looks like it will continue with economists predicting supply chain problems could last well into next year.

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