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Michael Knell

Canadian Home Furnishings Alliance merges with Furniture West

TORONTO — Furniture West and the Canadian Home Furnishings Alliance, two of this country's three regional associations of furniture and bedding manufacturers, importers and associate members, are merging effective immediately.

The new organization will be based here and operate as the Canadian Home Furnishings Alliance. CHFA President Murray Vaughan will continue in the role with the new organization.

The third regional association, the Quebec Furniture Manufacturers Assn., remains independent. It is the owner and operator of the Canadian Home Furnishings Market.

In a related announcement, CHFA and Furniture West said the Canadian Council of Furniture Manufacturers will cease operations immediately and responsibility for national issues will devolve to the new CHFA in cooperation with the Montreal-based Quebec Furniture Manufacturers Assn. In recent years, the council has only had responsibility for administering the Canadian UFAC program, which itself has fallen out of favor with this country's upholstery producers.

The CHFA was founded in 1890 as the Ontario Furniture Manufacturers Assn., changing its name in 2007 with the decision to admit importers and distributors to its membership. At the merger, the association had approximately 21 members and 19 affiliate members, which include the buying groups and industry suppliers.

Furniture West was founded in 1970. According to its website, it has about 26 manufacturer members from Western Canada.

It has been without a full-time staff member since the retirement of then-president Joe Malko two years ago. After that, the association hired a consultant to review its operations and survey members to determine what path it should take.

In a statement, the new CHFA said many furniture companies have repeatedly told both associations that the number of industry groups must be reduced before they would consider joining.

"The landscape of the industry has changed dramatically and will continue to change," the statement read, adding, "The globalization of the past decade exposed weaknesses in the competitive position of the Canadian home furnishings industry. The downsizing of the industry in all regions of the country has caused association boards to think about changing the structure of these two regional associations and the national organization."

CHFA President Murray Vaughan said, while exact details are still being determined, the new association's first meeting of members will be held sometime during the Canadian Home Furnishings Market next January. At that time, a new board of directors - which will include representation from the West - will be elected.

Until then, longtime CHFA board Chairman Laine Reynolds will continue to serve.

"Combining the resources of Furniture West and the CHFA will provide funding to improve existing benefits to members and deliver new programs," Vaughan said. "With a broader membership base, the newly created CHFA will be more attractive to potential new members.

"This will also allow for more equitable membership fees and generate incremental revenue and sponsorship dollars," he said. "Pooling resources will allow the organization to address common issues and at the same time raise the profile of the industry to government."

Vaughan also said he is working on expanding the association's credit program to include Furniture West members as well as the best means to introduce the CHFA's successful safety group program to the west. He is also anxious to reintroduce Furniture West's freight program and wants to establish an industry-focused human resources committee to deal with issues such as skills training.

"We also need to do more member-to-member networking," he said. "We need to talk to each other more."

For more information about the new Canadian Home Furnishings Alliance, contact Vaughan at (905) 677-6561 or


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