Hopefully there are a few of you out there that can help me out with this nagging question. Once you have a design that has caught on, who can you take it to to manufacture it in bulk? I can’t seem to find any furniture manufacturing companies in the US. Any ideas?

Are you looking for a manufacturer who would license your design and take over sales and distribution? Or a contract manufacturer who will make them for you to sell?

Licensing it is probably going to be hard, you have to find someone who wants it, and into whose line it fits, and you have to be realistic about what a fair royalty percentage is (in this industry it’s a single digit number, and you can almost certainly count to it on one of Bart Simpson’s hands with a couple fingers to spare). Finding someone to make them for you, provided you are realistic about what that costs, is not too hard.

There is very little volume furniture manufacturing in the US at the moment, but by “volume” I mean thousands of pieces a month. But if you need that kind of volume, you’re probably not asking questions like this here. Smaller volumes, or high volume products with little labor input (mostly CNC cut, minimal assembly) can be done in the US.

Thanks for responding Scott. I’m definitely still in the small volume phase. I’m able to take care of the CNC work, so I’m really just looking for someone to do the sanding, finishing, and assembly. Should I just go to a local cabinet shop, or is there specialized industry that does work like this?

Yeah, cabinet shops would be a good start. Even then, most contract manufacturers would want the whole process, including the CNC work, since the part you want to job out is the low margin work.

I don’t know how skilled the work is that you require and the kind of machinery you need, but I’ve also heard of some people hiring some workers through an employment agency, setting up their own little assembly line and then overseeing the process. Like students and people with low education willing to work for a low fee. Within a week they they had the volume of products they needed, leather bags if I recall correctly. And they learned a lot as well. So that may be an approach to consider.

Agree with the majority of this comment but I take issue with the above quote. Try not to equate temp workers with uneducated workers. In this economic climate, a 46-year-old hired through Manpower to assemble your widget may have been an expert machinist in his/her heyday, or a practicing lawyer, or an architect.

It’s just wise not to assume anything about any kind of worker.

It’s just wise not to assume anything about any kind of worker.

An old adage: when we assume, you make an ASS out of U and ME.

There’s another word associated with hiring people, the people that you want to help make you money… it’s R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Hi sthunt, Not sure if places like this exist in the US but here in Australia we have companies dedicated to employing people with disabilities. Many of the employees have skills in light furniture work such as sanding assembly and finishing. I have known and used these companies in the past and the work has been top notch. It is not necessarily cheap but they are usually happy with small batch volumes.

+1 on the hiring people with disabilities.

I design for a large commercial manufacturer and we get a local supplier who have workers with intellectual and physical disabilities to construct some of our components. We utilize their ability to make carcasses for lounges etc, and they have a cnc and wood machining workshop.

Another avenue is contracting out work to suppliers much like a large factory like ours does. Do you have a specific design that you can produce drawings of and give to a wood machinist, steel fabricator, etc? Just watch your tolerances and make sure you make it very clear what you want.

If I was running a small business I would start with a decent home workshop and contract out whatever was too daunting for me to handle at home.