Willamette Furniture Mfr. offers very high quality office furniture designed to effectively incorporate computer machinery into the executive office or home office. The key to the line is an ergonomically effective desk that still looks like an executive desk, looks very good in a high-end home office, but is intended to accommodate the personal computer.
Within our niche we have two significant competitors, Acme Computer Furniture and ABC Manufacturing. Acme is a bigger company but like us, operating mainly in our same niche, whose marketing is better than its product quality. ABC is a subsidiary of Haines Furniture, a major furniture manufacturer, which has recently targeted our niche.
In general, however, our competition is not in our niche. We compete against generalized furniture manufacturers, cheaper computer-related furniture, and the mainstream merchandise in the major furniture channels and office supply stores. It isn't that people choose our competitors instead of our product, it is that they choose lesser quality, mainstream materials instead of the higher quality furniture we offer.
Sales literature is attached as an appendix to the plan.
For 1998 we plan to develop a company catalog, which would include some other products for the same target customers. The focus will be the executive office catalog, with furniture, lamps, other accessories.
Our Oregon location is a distinct advantage for local wood. We can buy higher quality oak and cherry than either of our competitors (one in California, one in New York). Since our sales increased over the last two years, we have been able to buy at better prices, because of higher volumes.
We work with three wood suppliers, all local. Bambridge supplies most of our oak, and a bit of cherry and some other specialty woods. Bambridge has been in business for as long as we have, and has given us good service and good prices. This is a good, stable supplier. Duffin Wood Products is a good second source, particularly for cherry and specialty woods. We've used Merlin supplies as well, frequently, for filling in when either of our main two suppliers were short.
We also work with a number of specialty manufacturers for furniture fittings, drawer accessories, glass, shelving accessories, and related purchases.
Although we aren't a major player compared to the major furniture manufacturers, we are one of the biggest buyers of the custom materials we need. Most of our suppliers are selling through channels to hobbyists and carpenters, so they treat us as a major account.
We depend on our dominance of the latest in technology of ergonomics, combined with classic design elements of fine furniture. We must remain on top of new technologies in display, input and output, and communications. For example, our latest models are already assuming the desktop digital scanner as a frequent accessory, and audio for use in creating presentations, email attachments, etc.
Our assembly patents are an important competitive edge. No competitor can match the way we turn a drawback -- having to assemble the product -- into a feature. Our customer surveys confirm that customers take the interlocking assembly system as an enhancement to the sense of quality.
In 1998 we will introduce the new line based on the executive laptop computer, with docking station to connect to a network. The new furniture has a different configuration to assume easy access to the docking station, and better use of the space that doesn't have to be dedicated the the CPU case.
We are also going to accommodate larger monitors, the 17" and 21" sizes that are becoming much more common, particularly in our high-end market. As we do, we will also be watching for the new technology providing wall-mounted flat screens, the liquid plasma and similar technologies.