SAN DIEGO – Home office, entertainment and dining furniture supplier Martin Furniture has shut down its manufacturing facility in Tijuana, Mexico, marking the end of its more than two decades of operations in the country.
Furthermore, with all production moving to factories in Vietnam and Malaysia that aren’t owned by the company, the shift effectively ends Martin’s 40-year tenure as a furniture manufacturer.
“For us, it is a big deal,” company founder and CEO Gil Martin told Furniture Today. “We’ve been a manufacturer for 40-plus years, and 20 of that was in Mexico.”
Martin said the decision was motivated by a desire to streamline production of the company’s existing categories – home office and entertainment – with the new dining category launched last High Point Market.
“About 70% of our business was already in Asia,” Martin continued. “So I thought it best to align it 100% there. We have growth there with new categories; we have a great team over there.”
Martin lamented over Mexico, saying it was getting more expensive to operate there. Mexico boomed for case goods suppliers over the pandemic, a time when getting product out of Asia reliably and cheaply proved next to impossible. As Asia returned to normal, the hype behind Mexico has fizzled.
“The government there has been raising wages for three or four years in a row,” he said. “I understand, of course, that it helps standard of living, but our business is global. We want to be competitive.”
Martin had about 400 employees at the Tijuana plant. Through the past nine months, that number fell to 325 due to attrition, Martin said. Most of the remaining employees have been given a severance package and laid off.
As part of the shift, Martin has now centralized its manufacturing operations in Asia under the oversight of Gustavo Velez, vice president of imports. Corporate offices have moved to Vietnam, with veneered product coming from Vietnam, while laminate product is coming from Malaysia.