This is a rendering of Jofran’s new 365,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution center in South Carolina.
HIGH POINT — Several furniture importers are revamping their domestic warehouse strategies in an effort to reposition themselves in the marketplace with long-term competitive logistics solutions for their retail partners.
The most recent of these was Riverside Furniture, which last week announced plans to purchase a 300,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution center about an hour north of High Point in Caswell County. The facility, combined with the company’s existing one in Fort Smith, Ark., will give the company 800,000-square feet of warehouse and distribution center capacity.
The company is spending $5.4 million to purchase and renovate an existing facility, which will replace temporary space the company leased in southern Virginia for the 18 months.
“We have recognized the need for an East Coast warehouse for quite a few years, and a year and a half ago, we entered into an agreement with a third party to test the waters,” said Fred Henjes, president and CEO of Riverside Furniture, noting that this validated the need for the company to own an East Coast facility. “It had been our intention all along to buy a place.”
He added that the facility, which will open this coming spring, is significantly larger than the space it had in Virginia, and will allow it to carry the full line of bedroom, dining room, home office, home entertainment and occasional furniture vs. only the top “A and B sellers.”
Henjes estimated it will house roughly $15 to $20 million wholesale value of finished goods and will be able to ship goods in in about a week from the time of order.
“This will serve the entire Eastern seaboard,” he said, noting that being on 50 acres, it also has room to expand.
While some details are still being worked out, the Fort Smith facility will serve the western half of the U.S., primarily west of the Mississippi.
Better flow of goods
Home Meridian International, a division of Hooker Furniture that includes Pulaski, Samuel Lawrence, Samuel Lawrence Hospitality, Prime Resources International, Accentrics Home and HMIdea, announced it is consolidating warehouse operations into an 800,000-square-foot, high-cube facility it is leasing in Liberty County, Ga., near the Port of Savannah.
As a result, it will vacate three separate facilities it is leasing in Mayodan, N.C. While these facilities gave the company more than 1 million square feet of space, they also were not as functional because the buildings were multi-story and had low ceilings, noted Lee Boone, president of HMI.
“They are not racked, so you can’t go up,” Boone said. “So we will have a lot more storage space, and it will reduce handling and damage.”
He added that the proximity to the port of Savannah also will significantly reduce drayage costs of moving containers from the port to the warehouse. The facility also is near major interstates, which makes it easier to flow goods not only up and down the eastern seaboard, but also around the country. Its location, company parent Hooker Furniture said, makes it “strategically located to reach nearly all of the U.S. population within 36 hours.”
“You will still have some costs to move containers from the port to the warehouse, but you are talking more like $100 (per container), not $600,” Boone noted.
Some other companies that are adding new East Coast warehouses include Maxwood Furniture and Jofran. Maxwood is opening a new facility in Marion, S.C., and Jofran is opening a facility in Summerville, S.C.
Jofran’s 365,000-square-foot, high-cube facility, which will be operational in September 2021, will hold more than 1,500 containers of finished goods, said Joff Roy, CEO. The project, which includes land, building and the racking system, represents an investment of $25 million.
The company will maintain its warehouse about 35 minutes south of Boston, which will continue to serve customers in the Northeast and into Maryland and perhaps parts of Virginia as well as parts of the upper Midwest. The South Carolina facility primarily will serve customers in the Southeast.
“This is an auxiliary warehouse to the one in Boston,” Roy said. “We were well beyond capacity in Boston, and we needed more space and we needed it desperately.”
But, he said, the South Carolina facility, which is being built from the ground up, also has advantages in that it is near the port of Charleston and closer to its customers in that part of the country.
“We needed to be closer to our customers for sure,” Roy said, adding that the overall transportation costs of being closer to that part of the marketplace also are more favorable. “That is something we are taking advantage of.”