Living Spaces (Furniture & Equpment)

Purchasing Advice

Purchasing campus furniture can be a challenging process. With so many products on the market and so much competitive advertising, it’s often hard to assess the merits of various furniture suppliers.

Among furniture suppliers with domestic manufacturing capabilities, those that have continued to modernize and upgrade their facilities — and to expand the scope of their operations — give you more advantages.

Furniture manufacturers who can produce their own in-house tubular steel and stamped steel components are better positioned to serve you than those who can’t. That’s because they can efficiently produce these components on an as-needed basis, compared to manufacturers who buy pre-fabricated components from other sources, often with a significant supplier markup. Moreover, companies that make their own components can exercise direct quality control throughout the manufacturing process; suppliers who outsource their components have to rely on vendors to maintain quality standards.

Manufacturers with soft plastic injectionmolding and hard plastic compression-molding capabilities give you even more advantages. Along with better quality control, these technologies let them give you a wider range of plastic colors. Vendors that also fabricate their own particleboard- and plywood-core work surfaces provide further quality control and color-related benefits.

In addition to product quality, manufacturers with superior distribution capabilities offer you important related product selection benefits. Large warehouse facilities enable them to stock a wider range of furniture and equipment items. For you, that means better lead-times, not just for a handful of items in a single color, but for hundreds or even thousands of models in multiple colors.

Suppliers with a commitment to the design, testing and development of new products can make a huge difference for you, since they can offer — or work with you to develop — custom furniture that enhances the way your campus uses technology, promotes collaborative learning and supports students of all abilities. If you decide to order custom-made furniture, it’s definitely advantageous to work with a domestic manufacturer with whom you can communicate directly and whose facilities you can readily visit.

Moreover, U.S. manufacturers with extensive fabricating and molding capabilities have the tools, and the geographical proximity, to more quickly provide high-quality custom products compared to suppliers who aren’t fully equipped domestic manufacturers.

This article originally appeared in the October 2013 issue of College Planning & Management.

About the Author

Bob Roskos is the corporate copywriter for Virco Mfg. Corporation.

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