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Furniture CEOs support safety but say regulations add costs

Roundtable discusses challenges, cost of compliance

HIGH POINT - Top furniture industry executives are happy to comply with any government regulations that result in safer products.
However, they question standards that they believe do little or nothing to increase product safety, while layering on additional costs.
To help bring clarity to the growing confusion resulting from numerous state and federal product safety regulations, industry leaders met with Furniture/Today at a CEO Roundtable on the eve of the High Point Market to discuss the challenges - and cost - of compliance.
The panel, moderated by Furniture/Today's Thomas Russell, included CEOs Todd Wanek of Ashley Furniture, Paul Toms of Hooker Furniture, Jeff Young of Schnadig, Karel Czanderna of Flexsteel, Kurt Darrow of La-Z-Boy and Kevin O'Connor of Samson Marketing.
The group stressed that the compliance issues represent an industry-wide challenge that must be addressed by every link of the supply chain including retailers, wholesalers, manufacturers and raw materials suppliers.
La-Z-Boy's Darrow said that while many regulations start with good intentions, they sometimes don't work as intended and create confusion by the time they are implemented. He pointed to California's Proposition 65, which imposes a labeling requirement on products containing certain chemicals the state considers unsafe.
"It's a moving target and it's hard to keep up with," Darrow said. "So you have to segregate your product and evaluate the cost of (complying with the rule) nationwide as opposed to just California.... It adds administrative costs. (And) the effort to notify all your retailers and tag all your product is massive."
Confusion involving Prop 65 was also evident when the conversation focused on labeling product sold in the state of California. Some participants have received legal advice that they don't have to label the product on the grounds that they are fully compliant. Others, while maintaining their product is compliant, continue to label their products.

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