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Amish Furniture Stain Standards Program Helps Ensure Color Consistency

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The Amish furniture manufacturers in rural Holmes County, Ohio through the Amish communities Hardwood Furniture Guild (HFG) announced that they are continuing to promote the quality control group operating under the entity of Ohio Certified Stains, LLC. This ongoing effort has gained the support of Amish furniture manufacturers in Pennsylvania as well as members of NIWA in northern Indiana.

The Ohio Certified Stains, LLC. (OCS) membership strives to ensure color continuity and consistency in the stains used to finish furniture made by the hundreds of participating small manufacturers.

The goal of the OCS, established in 2005, was to create standards of excellence through color consistency.

At the time, the manufacturing cluster had four different suppliers of stains and specific colors were not consistent from supplier to supplier.

Consistency in the finishing process is even more critical because several small furniture makers may contribute pieces to a complete suit of furniture. For example, three different furniture manufacturers within the area might be involved in producing a dining room suit - one producing chairs, another, the dining table, and the third making a companion piece.

“Those manufacturers might each use a different finisher”, said Roy Miller, one of the foundingfathers of the OCS and president of Country View Woodworking, “what we were offering was three different hues of the same color. There was no color consistency in any given suit. So we certified the stain colors, encouraging the stain suppliers to adhere to what we established as the standard for particular colors.”

Seven suppliers now are licensed to provide stains to finish the cluster’s hardwood furniture products. “We have ownership of the OCS logo and licensed distributors sell our OCS products”, continued Roy. “Other Amish communities have been encouraged to adhere to what we established here because the same furniture retailers are buying from us as well as from Amish furniture manufacturers in adjacent states. Retailers want that color consistency that our community offers. Basically, they have urged the manufacturers in adjacent states to use our certified stains as well.”

The stains are monitored on a continual basis. “Three times a year, we have our suppliers bring us samples of the stains so we can check them for color, continuity and consistency”, reported David Nisley, chairman of the OCS and owner of Nisley Cabinet.

The OCS group offers 20 standard colors, ranging from a natural to dark brown to reddish deep purple.

“We have to keep in mind that wood is a natural product, and therefore, natural color variations do exist in any species as it grows from region”, explained a prominent builder of the solid hardwood products. “Having these master color samples helps overcome some of the color issues inherent in the wood. Even so, there could still be very slight variations in the final product simply because of the uniqueness of solid wood.”

The OCS standard is an excellent selling tool, offering furniture retailers peace of mind when ordering furniture from the Amish craftsmen - or from Amish furniture makers in Indiana and Pennsylvania.

“The OCS logo assures that retailers will receive products that have color consistency in the products they offer for sale to their consumers”, continued Roy Miller. “This means they don’t have to hope that the pieces they purchase from several different furniture manufacturers will match in color and hue.”

“If consumers can afford to buy only one or two pieces this year, they have the assurance that a few years down the road when they have the funds, they will be able to buy the remaining pieces that will match”, added Roy.

“I can’t stress enough the importance of what we are doing here in our Holmes County and how unique all of this is to the furniture industry”, said Mr. Miller, who markets casual and formal dining groups on a national basis. “No piece of furniture manufactured overseas can even come close to matching the quality or consistency of what we offer.”

The OCS group will continue to promote the OCS logo so consumers will understand the value of the furniture they buy.” “Our long term goal is to market the logo to consumers so that our furniture will be consumer-driven and consumers will ask for OCS furniture at the retail level,” Roy said.

Many manufacturers also offer furniture-care repair kits to retailers to sell to consumers. A business consultant who works with the community of manufacturers recalls the truth-in-advertising concept that is used to protect American consumers. “Many offshore Pacific Rim manufacturers advertise their furniture as “cherry finish,” suggesting that the furniture is a product made from solid cherry wood when it’s not. The critical thing about OCS products is that they offer a benchmark for ensuring retailers and consumers that this community practices ethical methods to the highest degree possible.”

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