WorkPlace Furnishings (WPF), North America’s largest office furniture dealer group, is in its heyday. The dealer group is enjoying record membership levels with 120 office furniture dealers; its recent annual meeting in Tampa, Florida, drew record attendance, up 23 per cent from last year; and today the dealer group announced a strategic union with Office Furniture Retail Alliance (OFRA).
Victor Maffe, VP of marketing at WPF, told OPI+: "Dealers are finding tremendous value in what WPF has to offer. As more dealers join and word begins to spread about their association with our organisation, other dealers want to participate as well. We have planned growth goals of two dealers a month."
WPF offers dealers a number of programmes that help them compete in the marketplace more efficiently, as well as "tapping the knowledge of the most successful dealers" in various areas of their businesses to help others be more successful.
The new alliance is a good example of WPF’s innovative offerings. The dealer group will work with OFRA, a privately-owned company founded in 1998, to create the nation’s largest network of office furniture rental, sales and distribution.
"We try to bring new business opportunities to our dealer members," said Maffe. "Rental is one more way in which we do that. Some dealers will choose to get into the rental business and some will not. We simply offer a way for those interested to get into the rental business and have one more thing to offer customers in their market."
OFRA offers the largest standardised office furniture rental inventory available in the industry, including case goods, systems, seating, filing and storage products, and office technology products. The association works through a network of commercial furniture dealer partners located throughout the US and Canada and uses ten distribution centres.
In other initiatives, WPF has also developed a private label systems furniture line, an "entry-level system that will have limited fabric and finish options". Maffe is keen to point out that the system is not meant to compete with any of the major systems in the market today.
During its annual meeting, the group also published a special white paper for members on opportunities in the healthcare market.
WPF’s success is partly down to dealers expanding their product mixes. Many traditional OP dealers are also starting to dabble in furniture and WPF can provide them with a business plan to fit their customer base that is different from "furniture-only" dealers. Another reason for WPF’s success is the office furniture industry as a whole in the US, which is doing relatively well, or is at least more buoyant than it is across the Atlantic.