Trendway Takes Two Strategic Steps

November 24, 2004
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HOLLAND — Improving business conditions for the office furniture industry led Trendway Corp. to embark on two strategic initiatives that are designed to expand product lines and grow sales.

The Holland-based Trendway recently acquired seating maker CompuChair of Everett, Wash., and formed an alliance with a Hong Kong furniture design firm, POSH Office Systems Ltd.

Both moves come as the office furniture industry’s sales are trending upward following a steep three-year downturn. As the industry recovers and Trendway’s sales “definitely are looking up,” the timing was right to go forward with both initiatives, Trendway Marketing Director Susan Zalnis said.

“The past few years, the opportunities to do that have been few and far between. Now those types of things are becoming available to us and we are in a position now to take advantage of it,” Zalnis said.

The CompuChair acquisition also stems in part from the ending earlier this year of an alliance Trendway had with European chair maker Interstuhl, she said.

Trendway will incorporate CompuChair’s product lines into its seating portfolio. CompuChair, founded in 1991, produces more than a dozen low-end ergonomic task, multi-use and executive office chairs that are sold primarily in the Pacific Northwest.

The CompuChair seating is compatible with Trendway’s office system, Trendway Chairman and CEO Don Heeringa said.

“The acquisition of these product lines will allow Trendway to very quickly expand our seating offering,” Heeringa said.

In the partnership with POSH Office Systems, the largest distributor of commercial furniture in Hong Kong and operator of a franchise network in China, Trendway seeks to tap additional design, engineering and tooling expertise to match its manufacturing and distribution strengths. The two companies plan to develop a full line of office furnishings, starting with files and storage units.

“It is an ideal partnership,” Heeringa said. “While we both bring well-suited skills to the table, we also share a passion for service.

The partnership also could help Trendway source components from lower-cost suppliers in Asia, and even finished or “hybrid” products from Asian producers to sell in the U.S. market, said President Mark Groulx.

With the rise in Chinese furniture makers, Trendway sees potential in growing the business through an alliance, Groulx said.

“What we really see is it giving us the chance to compete with China as opposed to competing against China,” he said. “It gives us a chance to be more of a global producer.”    

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