Hoteliers must choose between an American furniture manufacturer and an overseas option during each new build or renovation project. It’s a decision that can’t be made lightly, as it affects both budget, and the quality guests expect.
It’s important when making these decisions to avoid short-sightedness. What looks like a responsible financial move for your hotel today could end up being a costly mistake tomorrow.
Foreign vs. Domestic: The Pros of Buying American Furniture
Here are some of the pros outlined by hotel owners for opting for a domestic hospitality furniture manufacturer:
- Quality assurance
- Stronger communication
- Guest safety
- Intellectual property protection
American furniture carries more than just name recognition. It’s a promise to the people. The USA has a longstanding reputation for making respectable, quality products that stand the test of time. That’s especially true when it comes to custom hotel furniture.
But why is this true? Domestic furniture lives up to quality and workmanship standards because of:
- American integrity & ingenuity
- Durable materials
- Safety regulations
The “anything worth doing is worth doing right” mentality couples with domestic standards that ensure your furniture is the best it can be. And a standard 5-year warranty should protect you from any deficiency or damage under normal use.
Expect a faster turnaround when ordering from an American furniture manufacturer. On-time delivery should never be an issue.
Let’s say, you’re awaiting a shipment of quality casegoods furniture near the end of a hotel project. With your hotel layout and overall design taking shape as the deadline approaches, you can’t afford a logistical hold-up.
An American furniture manufacturer has far fewer hurdles to jump over before getting the product to your site. Oceans, borders, inspections, and customs tariffs don’t stand in the way, as they do with foreign-made furniture.
In the unlikely event something breaks or doesn’t fit, access to American-made replacement parts is quicker and easier, as well. Overall, there are fewer chances for breaks or bottlenecks in your supply chain.
Fulfilling a custom casegoods furniture order via a domestic supplier should take approximately 8 weeks. In those 2 months, the first several weeks are typically devoted to communication between your team (designer, general contractor, purchaser, etc.) and the manufacturer to discuss:
- Design specifications
- Detailed drawings
- Material confirmation (such as laminate vs. veneer finishes)
- Site surveying and layout blocking
Much of the communication will occur before your order hits the factory floor. Additionally, a dedicated project manager (PM) can actually visit your hotel site in person to offer an outside perspective. Such hands-on communication with a foreign furniture vendor is unlikely - if not impossible.
Guests should have a comfortable and safe stay. Not only is American-made furniture often safer from a structural standpoint, but also in its material composition.
Imported furniture often contains toxic flame-retardant chemicals, which are known to cause severe health problems like cancer and genetic issues. Good news, the U.S. Toxic Substance Control Act protects consumers, employees, and the environment from such hazards.
We wouldn’t use volatile chemicals anyways. Studies have shown some of them aren’t very good at stopping fires after all.
Intellectual Property Protection
Try to get an international patent on your product line. There’s no guarantee foreign governments will honor it. And all of the sudden, you start seeing your trendy design aspirations as dime-a-dozen counterfeits in imported furniture.
A domestic furniture manufacturer must honor your intellectual property (IP) rights.
Foreign vs. Domestic: The Cons of Buying American Furniture
On the other hand, here are some elements that hotel owners outline as being the cons of domestic furniture:
- Increased initial investment
- Fewer brands to choose from
Increased initial investment
This is where you have to be really careful with the cost-balancing act. Imported furniture is sometimes cheaper because of foreign wage laws that pay pennies on the dollar compared to American workers, particularly in Asia. As a result, domestic furniture carries a higher price in most instances.
But that price carries quality assurance. You won’t be returning to the vendor for a costly and time-consuming do-over because of shoddy craftsmanship.
Fewer brand Choices
America became a tough place to do business decades ago. Only the strongest hotel furniture manufacturers have adapted, survived, and thrived.
There may be fewer vendors to choose from compared to poorly regulated overseas markets, but again, American-made ensures quality and style unavailable most other places.
hotel owners agree: the pros outweigh the cons
We’ll let you do the counting, but there are far more pros to domestic furniture than cons. And even the cons have can’t-miss exceptions when it comes to quality assurance.
An upfront investment in American furniture is an investment in your hotel’s future. It’s also a nod toward guest satisfaction and safety.
And who would turn down the extra PR points?
Editor's Note: This blog post was originally published on February 14, 2018 and was updated on August 26, 2019 to reflect updated insights and information.