Furniture company continues to buck trends

Mar. 30, 2013 @ 03:28 PM

Jorge Lagueruela co-founded Trinity Furniture Inc. 30 years ago, when the rest of the industry was starting a downward spiral.
Today, he’s managed to buck the trends that have devastated some parts of the furniture business — not only surviving but thriving.
His company this spring is building a 24,000-square-foot addition to its Kennedy Road facility to position itself for further growth in its core business — making office furniture for a variety of government and private-sector clients.
Lagueruela said the expansion will bring all of the company’s operations and its work force of about 85 employees under one roof. The company has been leasing a building in Archdale for warehouse and storage, but Lagueruela said it was causing too many logistical problems running back and forth from the main plant to the rented space.
The addition will expand the existing facility to 104,000 square feet, which will give it space for its warehouse and shipping operations in the same building where its manufacturing functions are located.
The company designs and fabricates its own wood frames for the chairs, sofas, benches, tables and other furniture it makes in its shop. It also has full woodworking and finishing departments.
“I need the capacity at the growth area where we do most of our work, which is our main plant,” said Lagueruela, Trinity Furniture’s president and owner. “It will allow me to add a few more cutting tables, more sew machines, a few more upholsterers, and just increase my capacity.”
The expansion is expected to add four or five jobs to Trinity Furniture’s work force of about 85, he said.
The company has focused heavily over the years on government contracts, producing office furniture for various members of the U.S. Senate and House, as well as jury chairs and other products for the federal court system.
“That’s been our steady business,” Lagueruela said.
Economic development officials said Trinity Furniture’s expansion is a welcome sign for Randolph County’s furniture sector, which represents about 12 percent of the county’s total employment. Randolph’s unemployment rate increased from 9.6 percent in December to 11.1 percent in January.
“They do a pretty good quality product,” said Kevin Franklin, existing business and industry coordinator for the Randolph County Economic Development Corp. “They’ve diversified quite a bit.”
The company produces commercial office furniture for various clients in the corporate world, from banks to libraries. Another part of its business is doing work for universities.
Lagueruela said the company recently finished a project for Syracuse University, making lobby and lounge furniture. It also makes furniture for military bases and for clients in the health care sector.
He said he expects the company to invest as much as $750,000 in the expansion, which he hopes will be finished by the first part of June.
The company is not receiving any economic incentives from local governments for the expansion.
Projects that receive cash grants or other forms of assistance typically involve more jobs and larger amounts of capital investment than what Trinity Furniture is undertaking.
Franklin said Lagueruela inquired about possible assistance from the county, but officials couldn’t meet the company’s time frame.
“He was just kind of too far along in the process. Otherwise, we would have taken a hard look at what the options were,” Franklin said.