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Hickory, NC Area Furniture Firms To Introduce Export Consortium

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Six small and medium-sized U.S. furniture manufacturers announced that they are joining forces to create a cost-effective program for export sales. The consortium will roll out its package at the High Point Furniture Market which opens in High Point NC October 20.The campaign will target some 2,000 international buyers.The group also is recruiting sales representatives who have registered for the eight-day sales event, looking for long-term sales and servicing relationships. Marketing under the American Furniture Exporters (AFE) umbrella, the six companies include Leathercraft Inc., C.R. Laine, Designmaster Furniture Inc., McKinley Leather of Hickory Inc., Paladin Industries Inc., and Wright Table Company. All are located in the Hickory NC area, which has been home to furniture manufacturing for 100 years.They also maintain showrooms in High Point for the biannual markets. Together the AFE companies offer high end residential and commercial furniture.The offerings include hand-crafted custom upholstery with premium leather and fabrics, dining room and bedroom selections, and special presentations for offices and the hospitality industry. Each manufacturer will introduce international buyers to American Furniture Exporters, referring them to other manufacturers in the consortium. Brochures have been developed to help foreign buyers understand the features and benefits. AFE will coordinate orders and shipments with a single freight-forwarder and distribution firm. The cooperative effort will help international customers fill containers with more diversified products. Shipping documents and credit instruments will then be negotiated under one umbrella rather for each manufacturer.By simplifying the logistics, AFE will reduce shipping costs for the buyer dramatically and shorten the lead-time for receiving merchandise, it was stressed. The manufacturers also will target international manufacturers representatives in different countries throughout the world. The goal is to build long-term relationships with international buying groups and retailers. Rick Moose, an executive with Designmaster and leading proponent, cites the uniqueness of concept. "In the domestic arena we may be competitors, but in the international market we are partners," he observes. Moose said the High Point Market has the greatest impact with international buyers who are shopping for upper-end furniture."These are the buyers who will benefit most from the savings with consolidated shipping and management," he says. Facilitating the rollout is the Center for Emerging Manufacturing Solutions (CEMS), a new program based at Catawba Valley Community College.The North Carolina Department of Commerce and the U.S. Commerce Department are assisting in the marketing of the consortium.

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