Hekman sets new home office line for domestic production

Case goods resource Hekman Furniture is expanding a domestic custom home office program, marking what could be the company’s resurgence as a manufacturer of wood furniture for the first time in more than a decade.

The company ceased its domestic production between 2007 and 2009, gradually shifting its case goods mix to Asia. Since then, it has imported its bedroom, dining, occasional and office categories from Indonesia and Vietnam. It also sources accent pieces including accent desks in India.

This past fall, Hekman launched a domestic lift-desk program that is now being produced in the Zeeland, Mich., plant of parent company Howard Miller. Based on the success of that line, which began shipping in January, it is expanding the custom office program this spring with pedestal desks, file storage cabinets and table desks.

Like the standup desks, the other three categories offer many custom features, ranging from finish options, to hardware and caster options (available on table desks); door, drawer and column styles (for pedestal desks); and drawer and column style options for file cabinets. There also are multiple styles and/or sizes of desks and file cabinets, making for a nearly endless amount of available configurations.

With the exception of some components such as lift mechanisms, the desks — including the wood components — are made in the U.S. These are then shipped to the Zeeland plant, which already is making clocks, curios and display and entertainment cabinets for Howard Miller.

With available capacity in the plant, it made sense to utilize the space for the custom office line, noted Neil McKenzie, director of product development at Hekman. The plant also has custom capabilities, which were a good fit as well.

“Hekman had pulled away from domestic sourcing, and now we are taking this opportunity to get back into it as part of our mix,” McKenzie said. “It’s a balance that allows you to add value to your array of products, and that can be important because some dealers are looking for those resources.”

While pricing will depend on the style and configuration chosen, McKenzie said the pricing of the basic footprints is pretty close to similar goods sourced in Asia.

The benefit to customers in the U.S. is that, by avoiding long wait times for containers and then shipping goods across the water, Hekman will be able to deliver these items a lot more quickly than goods sourced in Asia. Customers also will be able to customize each item, a model that has worked well with the lift desks.

“It has done very well,” he said of the lift-desk program. “We have had lift desks for some time, but they were all imported. The beauty of this is that it is all made in Zeeland. We are able to service special orders fairly quickly out of our factory.”

The company will show the new custom office segments at its showroom at the April Premarket and June High Point Market. The line is expected to begin production in April and begin shipping in May.

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