"Pay More Attention to the Chairs"                                 

                                                                                     Written by Leonard J. Backer      May 31, 2015

                                                                                     Published by Experts.com          

                                                                                                                     Link to article:  www.experts.com     

                    

When you walk into a restaurant, lounge, hotel lobby, mall food court, medical office waiting room, university dining hall or almost any commercial facility for the first time; a substantial part of the “image” and your overall perception of that location and business, is shaped by the aesthetic design and condition of the seating.  


Most people think of chairs, bar stools and lounge seating as a “commodity type item”, i.e. products which are developed, designed and manufactured in a generally similar manner.  Nothing is farther from the truth.
Among the many thousands of seating designs produced and installed all over the world each year, there are critical differences beyond just the overall look and aesthetic design of the chair and its cost.  Seating design is a very unique discipline encompassing a wide range of interconnected analyses and thought processes:


-    Into what type of location will these chairs be installed?
-    What functionality needs to be integrated into the design?  (i.e. stacking, easily moveable on casters, flexible back)
-    What is the targeted selling price range?
-    What is the optimal material to utilize for this design?  (i.e. wood, plastic, steel tube, aluminum, resin, molded foam)
-    What types of customers will be using this seating?
-    Will the seating need to be small, medium or large scale?
-    What is the targeted level of comfort?  (i.e. not very much for 15-20 minute food court use versus extremely comfortable for a 2 hour meal in a 5 star restaurant)
-    Will this be a normal commercial use environment (like a bank or corporate office) or an “intensive use” application, i.e. 24/7 three shifts per day continuous use, university dormitory, casino, etc…?
-    What approach will be used for the construction and engineering aspects of the seating?
-    How much of the reinforcing construction needs to be hidden versus exposed?
-    What is the targeted “personality” of the chair?  (i.e. contoured and curved, thin line, more angular and squared, thicker stock)
-    After taking all of the above points into consideration, the chair components now need to be individually designed and engineered, sourced and then integrated into a proper manufacturing process, qualified factory operation with strong quality control procedures.
-    Prior to final order approval, the business owner should evaluate an actual sample chair under the exact same conditions and in the specific location of the final installation.  For example, if the chair is being used in a hotel lobby on thick pile carpet, the sample chair needs to be placed and thoroughly evaluated in the specific intended environment, using people of various ages and sizes; simulating actual normal use conditions.

WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN WHEN THE SEATING FIRST ARRIVES AT THE INTENDED LOCATION?
This is where the potential financial and legal exposure comes into sharper focus.  
Upon delivery the end user must closely inspect each chair, making sure there is no visible damage, i.e. cracked frame elements, legs, seat rails, all joints and connection points are tight and flush, glides properly affixed to the bottom of each leg, etc… If any of these issues arise, the end user must immediately go on record with the manufacturer and follow through for correction, repair or replacement if necessary.  


In commercial use applications, any of these initially non-inspected defects can manifest themselves in a sudden and potentially serious accident or catastrophic failure involving a customer.

WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE ON A CONTINUING BASIS?
First, the manufacturers’ care, maintenance and recommended inspection procedures must be read, clearly understood and then become part of the location’s training process and written operational procedures.  The manufacturer will publish this important information either on the labels affixed under each chair and/or in their price list terms and conditions.
Normally in a commercial use situation, all chairs should be closely visually inspected once a month to make sure that all frame joints are tight and flush, with no visible cracks or abnormal separations.  Underneath the seat and the legs (along with any stretchers) should also be inspected.  The glides should all be properly affixed to the bottom of each leg as well.  This regular inspection process is vital to maintaining the stability and overall safety of all seating.


The chairs should be sat in to make sure there is no wobble or cracking type sounds.  Also, to make sure the seats and/or backs are firmly attached.  Any chairs showing a potential defect should be immediately removed from service and the specific issues repaired or replaced according to the manufacturer’s service procedures and warranty.
It is also important for the business to maintain a very simple record or log of these inspections.  This type of documentation can be important if any accident or injury claims arise.


Having been involved from both the plaintiff and defense perspectives with all types of personal injury and litigation claims over the past 28 years, involving all types of seating designs, widely varying installations, distinctly different usage patterns and end customers of all ages, shapes and sizes throughout the U.S.; the best advice to all business owners and on-site management is to PAY MORE ATTENTION TO THE CHAIRS.


 MATERIALS PRODUCED AND WRITTEN BY LEONARD J. BACKER    1987 - 2008

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"Two executives team up for private label resource" 

                                                                         Thomas Russell -- Furniture Today, September 17, 2012 

JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. - Two longtime industry executives are using their expertise to provide a one-stop resource for private label manufacturing, warehousing distribution and customer service. Leonard Backer and Doug Blackford, former executives with contract and hospitality furniture resource Loewenstein Inc., are offering the service through their respective companies. Blackford is president of Consolidated Wood Products, which has about 50,000 square feet of manufacturing and distribution facilities in Jefferson City. Backer is president of Ultimo Furniture, which develops and designs furniture made with parts and components sourced out of Europe and Asia. The two worked together at Loewenstein for a number of years. Backer was vice president of marketing and Blackford worked on the manufacturing side. Before that, Backer was senior vice president and cofounder of EPIC Furniture Group and vice president of marketing at Brown Jordan International. Blackford managed two Haworth contract furniture factories and was director of operations and quality at Sea-Ray Yachts. Backer left Loewenstein in October 2008 and formed Ultimo in November of that same year. Blackford left Loewenstein a few years earlier and formed CWP in 2009. Before forming their alliance in May 2010, Backer said that he and Blackford each were getting inquiries from industry contacts about private label manufacturing and product design, development and sourcing opportunities. They also were hearing complaints in the industry about cost increases, large minimum quantities for orders, long lead times and product quality issues, particularly out of China. That, combined with the interest among retailers and consumers for U.S.-made goods, led them to pursue a sourcing and manufacturing partnership that would address the needs of clients seeking private label case goods and upholstery. Consolidated Wood Products’ 50,000-square-foot plant in Jefferson City, Tenn., can produce both upholstery and wood furniture. "By combining all of the successful experience and expertise of these two companies, we can offer an extensive range of services targeted for almost any area and any size company in the furniture industry, while still maintaining a low overhead," Backer said. He said he has relationships with some 35 suppliers both overseas and domestically that offer items tailored to the needs of private label clients. Many are in European countries such as Spain, Italy, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia, although he also works with factories in China and Vietnam. He also has Scandinavian sources that produce bent plywood components. Components supplied by these manufacturers typically are shipped to CWP's Jefferson City plant, which has a sanding, assembly, finishing and packaging facilities as well as a receiving and shipping department. "If it needs to be assembled, finished and shipped out, we can do it from that one facility," Backer said. The same facility also has a dedicated area for upholstery production. Both areas can produce samples as well as larger orders. "Between the two, we have a complete manufacturing facility," Backer said, adding that Ultimo also helps develop product based on a client's drawings and designs. "They (clients) can choose what they need from us and know what their costs will be each month." "We combine the best of American technology with these pre-milled parts and can service small orders," he said, noting that the concept also allows retailers to order in small or large quantities and have the finished goods stored in a secure area in the warehouse In addition, the CWP facility has staff trained to handle customer service, invoicing, collections and purchasing functions. Backer didn't name any clients, but indicated that the operation has a steady flow of orders and activity. He welcomed those interested in learning more about the business model to contact him at leonardbacker@yahoo.com or (305) 409-9092.


                     

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