Stitch Seating goes near-shore – Furniture Today

MINNEAPOLIS — Stitch Seating, which has focused to date on leather motion goods from China and Vietnam, is widening categories into stationary, occasional and accent chairs, and it is looking to speed up delivery times with fall introductions sourced in Latin America.

The move comes as some upholstery resources historically reliant upon Asian goods are casting their sourcing net closer to home.

At this month’s High Point Market, Stitch Seating, which has built a niche in mid-price motion designed in-house with a more stationary look, will debut around a dozen stationary sofa groups through sourcing agreements with factories in Colombia and Mexico, as well as a dozen new accent chairs including goods from Brazil. A half-dozen occasional table groups will be available to correlate with the upholstery.

Stitch Seating’s showroom is located in space 221 of Centers of High Point|Hamilton.

The company started around seven year ago sourcing what co-owner Mark Heckenlaible called “me-too motion furniture” out of China.

“A year or two later, we decided we didn’t want to be in that rat race,” he said. “If we were selling the same sofa at the same price as the big guys, what was the point?”

That led Stitch Seating to explore motion seating with a more stationary look through sourcing its own designs that Heckenlaible said are “higher styles, but not too contemporary and appropriate for the average American consumer who wants motion.”

Tariffs led to expanded sourcing out of Vietnam, where the company makes goods at two facilities in addition to a factory in China. Heckenlaible said Stitch Seating looks at the new sourcing as a complement to existing Asian goods and an opportunity for add-on business through an entry into stationary seating, occasional and an expanded selection of accent chairs.

“We want to continue the same styling and same flavors as before, and the same middle price points,” he said, adding the Latin American sourcing “does open us up to more categories with a big emphasis on stationary upholstery in fabrics and leathers as well as opportunities with wood and accent chairs.”


Latin America benefits

Product from Colombia and Brazil in particular incorporates a good deal of exposed wood due to the wood values available in those countries.

Both the Mexican and Colombian factories, which Heckenlaible declined to name, have been in business more than 40 years.

“The Mexico facility does a lot of higher-end business in the U.S., while the Colombia plant has been mainly in the South American market,” he said. The Colombia location is “in the process of building a dedicated facility for our product, which we design.”

The goal is to retain Stitch Seating’s niche in middle-price furniture, “but the customer is getting a much better value because the freight costs from Colombia in particular and Mexico are a fraction of freight from Asia,” Heckenlaible said. “We’re going to continue sourcing out of China and Vietnam — they’ll always be important — but this is an alternative or additional option for us and our customers.”

Product already is shipping from Latin America, and Heckenlaible said he anticipates lead times of 10 to 14 weeks order-to-door.

“The benefit compared with Asia right now is production is steady, and raw materials are consistent,” Heckenlaible said, noting production at the Latin American facilities hasn’t been so afflicted with pandemic-related shutdowns. “They’re production time hasn’t varied throughout all this, and the freight time is considerably less” than from Asia.

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