The Mayfield home office suite by Bestar-Bush is seen here in a two-tone finish. Pieces shown here include an L-desk, and bookcase and file storage units.
JAMESTOWN, N.Y. — RTA furniture specialist Bestar-Bush is expanding its domestic operations here, adding as many as 50 new positions on the manufacturing and administrative support side of its business.
Due to demand in both the commercial and home office segments — including a 30% increase in business during the first half — the company said the expansion is necessary to fulfill customer demands.
The company’s Jamestown plant suspended operations for roughly two months, reopening around mid-June. As its inventory was diminished during that period, the company is now producing to order as quickly as possible.
The new positions include about 35 on the manufacturing side and about 15 — including sales and marketing, accounting, product development and engineering — on the administrative side of the business.
Business in the residential segment was stronger earlier in the year as many began working from home during the beginning stages of COVID-19. However, the demand shifted more toward the commercial side of the business as companies began reopening their corporate locations.
“In the very beginning when people were first going home, it was more weighted toward residential furniture,” said Mark Weppner, executive vice president of marketing, design and engineering, noting that due to requests for desks and companion storage pieces a lot of inventory was sold. “Corporate projects were put somewhat on hold, but what we have seen in last 35 to 40 days is that coming back as businesses have begun to reopen.”
But Weppner noted that while residential Small Office Home Office groups continue to be in demand, there is also demand from consumers for commercial grade office that is not only durable, but that is aesthetically pleasing.
In fact, the company is showing photography of commercial office suites shown in residential settings to help consumers see how these might look in their own homes.
The company also imports office furniture and other categories from Asia, including its seating line. However, the domestic operation in Jamestown is serving the company well due to its proximity to its customer base. This includes corporate accounts, office superstores such as Staples and Office Depot, and online resources such as Wayfair, Overstock, Amazon and Cymax.
Weppner noted that some 90% of the company’s sales are done online, either through the e-commerce sites or through the websites of various office superstores, serving commercial and residential needs alike. In addition to office furniture, consumers also can shop Bestar-Bush in new and expanding categories such as bedroom, dining occasional and even upholstery.
In the office segment specifically, Weppner noted, the company is addressing two avenues of future work habits, including open space designs in corporate settings and work-at-home solutions.
While the company is still seeing demand for inline goods that can be shipped quickly, the company also is developing new finishes for some of its most popular collections including Cabot, Salinas, Somerset and Key West, offering new palettes that are easy to align with existing residential décor. These will be available this summer, the company said.
“We are part of a program that offers a curated list of products that would make sense for work-at- home environment,” Weppner said, of desks, seating and storage items that are scaled towards residential use but are “of commercial grade so they don’t wear it out at home and that also have some aesthetic choices they can marry to the style of their home vs. one size fits all.”
He added that the company delivers around the country – including from two distribution centers, one in Sacramento, Calif., and one in Erie, Pa. – in three to five business days. For the past 15 years, Bush also has offered at-home installations in 10 to 14 days from the time of order, another popular program.
In the past, he said, working from home was specific to certain industries such as customer service. But now, thanks to developments in digital technologies, communications among departments and colleagues has gotten much easier from home.
“We are increasing our spending and communication talking about work-from-home programs to solicit new business and to help customers who don’t know how to address this problem because they have never had it before,” Weppner said of the changes spurred by COVID-19. “With people experiencing multiple positions that can be done from home, this has created a whole new consumer segment that will continue to grow as work from home becomes the standard vs. the exception.”
With the additional positions, employment at the Jamestown facility would rise from about 370 to 420. The company also employs about 60 in its Erie distribution facility and nine in its Sacramento facility.
Positions will be posted on the careers page under “contact us” at Bush.co as specific needs are finalized. Those interested can contact [email protected] for more information.
“Our immediate need for additional staff will be in manufacturing, but we expect to add more office positions to continue to drive our e-commerce business,” Weppner said. “This is an exciting time of growth for our company, and we’re thrilled to continue our long history in Jamestown and to add to our team here.”