Century CEO remains focused on building trust, expanding technology

HIGH POINT — The lessons learned from the pandemic will no doubt continue to linger for some time to come, but at Century Furniture, the unprecedented event has already shaped the company’s business strategy for 2023 and beyond.

“Our No. 1 priority is to win back the trust of our customers whose experiences with our brands’ lead times and delivery dates through the pandemic was not something we were proud of,” said Alex Shuford, CEO, Rock House Farm family of Brands. “No., 2, it would be to attract and retain top notch talent to prepare ourselves for what we believe will be a very strong but competitive next five to seven years in the marketplace.”

Shuford says that the recent closures of several major manufacturers within the past year underscores the necessity of balancing innovation, production, labor, and corporate responsibility.

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Alex Shuford III

“First, let me say that these closures are a tragedy not only for the associates who worked there, but the local communities that surround each of those businesses and finally for our industry at large,” Shuford said. “Collectively, we have all worked very hard to market this industry as a viable and exciting industry for young talent, and to have these large very public closures deteriorates all of the efforts that we have all made.

“In terms of what we need to do to protect our businesses, employees and growth, I believe it all comes down to trust,” he continued. “You build trust with your employees, your community, and your customers that you are running a solid business and making good decisions. We have always played a more conservative hand as it pertains to our balance sheet.

“Furniture is cyclical, and proper and conservative financial planning is critical to thriving over the long term. Managing the amount of fixed overhead so that your company can weather the most challenging periods is an ownership responsibility.”

At the fall market, Century is launching several collections, including a debut outdoor collection from Carrier and Company. Company officials said that the collection includes “more than 25 forms” and is “a diverse offering of styles and materials reflecting the eclecticism they love” that is influenced by French bistro dining, Danish mid-century design, and ’70s maximalism with contemporary accent tables.

Additionally, Thomas O’Brien is launching a series of new pieces including a triple pedestal dining table at market, and the new products will be showcased in a newly renovated space inside the showroom. Cadence, a full collection of bedroom, dining and occasional that references transitional and classic forms, is also debuting, highlighting clean lines, striking materials, and a more organic, free form.

“For April market, we launched a number of products that were quite successful, which we are planning to expand on at the October market,” said Comer Wear, vice president of marketing. “The first was our Details Custom Demilunes and Consoles, a highly customizable console offering that can be configured with different top veneers, legs, metal accents and ferrules. We will be expanding this to include larger consoles in two additional sizes. We are also introducing a new chair into our best-selling line of highly configurable lounge chairs called ‘T Chairs,’ which help our designers and retailers with fast and affordable customization. 

“We are using new development to explore a couple influences that we seeing and hearing about from our customers,” Wear concluded. “Casual living with real and rich materials is top of mind for many of our clients working on second home retreats where overly slick contemporary finishes and designs feel out of place. Additionally, we are integrating a new offering of soft and shaped upholstery that looks to evolve forward the soft and overstuffed “marshmallow seating” that seems to be making its way to every price point.”

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