Sourcing Strategies by Tom Russell

Thomas Russell
Tom Russell Associate Editor I’m Tom Russell and have worked at Furniture/Today since August 2003. Since then, I have had covered the international side of the business from a logistics and sourcing standpoint. Since then, I also have visited several furniture trade shows and manufacturing plants in Asia, which has helped me gain some perspective about the industry in that part of the world. As I continue covering the import side of the business, I look forward to building on that knowledge base through conversations with industry officials and future overseas plant tours overseas. From time to time, I will file news and other industry perspectives on-line and, as always, welcome your response to these Web postings. (to view or add public comments click on "Add your Comment" below each blog post)
  • Brazil seeks to regain foothold in U.S. market

    In recent months, a number of industry case goods sources have touted the quality and competitive pricing coming from Brazil. A country, long known for its solid pine products, the country’s furniture industry appears on the rebound following the financial crisis and successive currency fluctuations that made its products uncompetitive in the U.S. market for a number of years. Today’s currency rate of just over three reals per U.S. dollar has made the products much more affordable. As a result, more companies are returning there to source product. It also made sense this past summer for ... Read More
  • Malaysia labor shortage needs fixing

    Malaysia’s furniture industry is no stranger to labor shortages, thanks largely to the fact that it has to import most of its labor from surrounding countries. This poses a challenge to manufacturers as many of those workers face deportation once visas expire, unless the workers can secure visa extensions that allow them to live and work in the country for longer, albeit also limited time period. This situation reared its head this past spring when the government suspended the recruitment of new foreign workers, although industry sources say shortages in source furniture plants have persisted for the past year ... Read More
  • U.S. government appears to step up antidumping duty enforcement

    In a recent blog I wrote about the issue of antidumping duty collection as addressed by two industry customs and compliance experts who spoke about antidumping enforcement at the June 2017 Logistics Symposium. The experts, Steve Fodor, of Customs Services & Solutions, and Venetia Huffman, of CV International, predicted that U.S. Customs and Border Protection will increase its efforts to collect duties on a variety of products, including wooden bedroom from China and uncovered innerspring units from China, Vietnam and South Africa. Their predictions are already starting to come true. In mid-August, a year after authority began for investigating under ... Read More
  • Furniture Today explores furniture manufacturing in Southern Brazil

    Later this month, Furniture Today will be undertaking its first tour of furniture factories in Brazil for the first time in more than 10 years. The purpose of the visit is to better understand the types of furniture these plants produce, the capacity available and how these manufacturers are looking to grow their business with U.S. customers. For years, Brazil has been an important resource due to its supply of raw materials, including pine, which has been used as a solid component in bedroom and dining room furniture. Yet as many in the industry know, Brazil took a bit ... Read More
  • Collecting antidumping duties: What is the net effect for furniture?

    The issue of millions of dollars in uncollected duties came into sharper focus during Furniture Today’s recent Logistics Symposium. During a panel presentation at that event, two customs and compliance experts gave some stark warnings regarding the administration’s stance on duty enforcement. President Trump made this abundantly clear in early March with an executive order that seeks to boost enforcement and collection of antidumping and countervailing duties that take aim at unfairly priced imports and thus help domestic manufacturers compete in a global environment. Some of the latest estimates peg these uncollected duties at more than $2.3 ... Read More
  • Question of duties: Plywood debate divides industry

    Headlines regarding an antidumping case against Chinese made hardwood plywood and decorative veneers may remind many in the industry of a similar debate in the furniture industry in 2003, when U.S. bedroom manufacturers brought their own antidumping case against Chinese-made wooden bedroom furniture. It was one of the most divisive issues facing the industry before or since, pitting U.S. manufacturers that made a living from their U.S.-made goods against retailers that made their living from competitively priced bedrooms, whether domestic or imported. Like the bedroom case, the hardwood plywood veneer case is pushing for antidumping duties ... Read More
  • A look at the industry’s history helps define today’s complex trade issues

    Reading all the headlines about the threat of tariffs on foreign made goods — China, Mexico or otherwise — got me thinking about what the furniture industry was like before I joined Furniture Today in 2003. Back then, the industry was undergoing one of the biggest shifts it had experienced since it moved from the Grand Rapids region of Michigan to the South in the early- to mid-20th century. Fast forward to the early 2000s, and China had not only become the largest source for imported furniture, but it was also a factor responsible for the shuttering of many U.S. furniture ... Read More
  • Could business-friendly regulation offset potential threat from tariffs?

    The start of a New Year typically brings a sense of optimism regarding opportunities for personal and professional growth. The furniture industry, which is no stranger to ups and downs each quarter, can share in this sense of excitement, particularly due to business improvements during the second half. While that only propelled the industry to an estimated 2.7% growth overall, it brings a sense of anticipation and hope that 2017 can be even stronger, particularly thanks to the end of a tumultuous election year. Regardless of how one voted, the implications indeed are positive for businesses, which could see ... Read More
  • Is the rising dollar helping or hurting your business?

    Strength -- or at least perceived strength -- of the U.S. economy has sent the dollar surging to a 14-year high according to recent news reports. This, combined with gains in the stock market, is also due partly to optimism about the recent election of Donald Trump. Markets in particular are doing well in anticipation of some of his proposed policies ranging from the reduction of corporate and business taxes to the rolling back of some regulations on businesses. A stronger dollar has a tendency to boost both consumer purchasing power and confidence. It also has can reduce the price of ... Read More
  • Vindication or disappointment

    What will be the response to Trump trade policies? As the world prepares for a Donald Trump presidency, the issue of global trade continues to make headlines. This week, for example, the Wall Street Journal had two stories in its newly revamped Business & Finance section dealing with Asia and a page one story about recent declines in the Chinese yuan that make Chinese-made goods less expensive to U.S. consumers. One of the stories pointed out how Chinese government subsidies are playing a bigger role in the profitability of various manufacturers big and small alike. Should the Trump administration place ... Read More
  • How will Trump approach international trade?

    The Trump victory on Tuesday clearly demonstrated a mandate from voters on several fronts, one of which was the anti-trade sentiments he expressed during his campaign. Those voters, including a large swath of white males, have been negatively impacted by job losses resulting from trade not just from Mexico but also Asian countries such as China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. So it makes sense that his stance on trade resonated strongly with these voters. The question is how will Trump approach trade with the Asian countries that have been so instrumental to the development and success of importers and other ... Read More
  • Furniture imports defy anti-trade sentiment

    For all the anti-trade sentiment being voiced in the presidential campaign, particularly against China and Mexico, you would think that furniture imports would be down, or flat at best. Yet consumers continue to vote with their dollars by purchasing furniture made not only in China and Mexico, but also Vietnam, Canada, Italy and Indonesia to name several. More details on those shipments will follow in future posts. We’ll also have a comprehensive overview of imports and exports for the first half in our market issue for opening day. It’s obviously true there is a renewed interest in made ... Read More