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Progressive Furniture enjoys Mexican connection

 The Baja Wood plant processes as much as 130,000 board feet daily. This worker is inspecting shaped parts used in bedroom production.The Baja Wood plant processes as much as 130,000 board feet daily. This worker is inspecting shaped parts used in bedroom production.

ROSARITO, Mexico — Like most case goods resources, Progressive Furniture sources from several countries in Asia including China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Each brings unique advantages and looks to a wood product line that includes bedroom, dining room and occasional furniture.

But over the years, Mexico has become an equally, if not more, important resource than any one of those countries, particularly in bedroom.

This is due to Progressive's longtime sourcing partnership with Baja Wood Internacional, a dedicated factory that operates a 280,000-square-foot production facility and 100,000-square-foot warehouse in Rosarito, just south of Tijuana.

Progressive, a division of Sauder Woodworking since July 2001, has sourced product from Baja Wood since 1992. From the start, both manufacturers worked to transition the plant from a facility that once specialized in bunk beds to a resource that produces complete master bedrooms, said Kevin Sauder, president and CEO of Sauder.

"It's been a profitable, long-term relationship for both parties," Sauder said, noting that while Progressive doesn't have an ownership stake in Baja Wood, it provides financial support where needed. "It is built upon a level of trust and understanding that has been very positive for both parties. They are good people."

 This piece, part of Progressive’s Trestlewood collection, is one of many solid wood case pieces made in the Mexico plant.This piece, part of Progressive’s Trestlewood collection, is one of many solid wood case pieces made in the Mexico plant.

Over time, Baja Wood has become an increasingly important wood bedroom resource, especially with the closing of Progressive's laminate and veneer bedroom plant in Claremont, N.C., in late 2007.

Around that time, product made in Mexico represented about 20% of the company's business, said Dan Kendrick, president of Progressive. Today it is closer to half.
"When we shut that factory down, this Mexico factory became our identity," Kendrick said.

Officials say the Mexico sourcing operation, which has been in its current location since the mid-1990s, remains competitive against factories in Asia, thanks to a combination of plant and worker efficiencies and its proximity to the U.S. market.

The one-shift operation employs roughly 700 full-time production workers in a variety of jobs ranging from machining parts to finishing product. The product is a bedroom line made mostly with solid U.S. pine.

Today the plant produces roughly a third of the estimated 40 suites in the Progressive line. Four-piece groups retail from $599 to $1,499 with the sweet spot at $899 to $1,299.

Due to the use of solid pine, the product ends up larger in scale and more rustic in nature than the transitional and contemporary veneer-based groups that come out of Vietnam.

Kendrick said that it would be impossible to import bedrooms with the same dimension, scale and price out of Vietnam. However, he guessed that similar groups coming out of Vietnam would start around $1,299 and top out at $2,499.

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