Local Manufacturer Looks For City ARPA Assistance

Post-Pandemic Push

A new prototype desk Colecraft Commercial Furnishings has created to market toward remote workers. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

There is a new opportunity for furniture makers focused on making office desks.

The new opportunity centers around remote workers who no longer – especially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic – go to an office in a large commercial building to handle their business. Nowadays, office professionals are hosting meetings with potential clients and business contacts in the comfort of their own homes. So how do remote workers turn a room in their home into a professional office?

According to Dave Messinger, Colecraft Commercial Furnishings CEO, remote workers are looking to purchase office furniture for their homes, which is a new market the custom manufacturer of high-end commercial office furniture wants to enter.

Desk for remote workers isn’t the only new market Colecraft is looking to crack. They also want to broaden what they offer to commercial office buildings by expanding into offering personnel desks and other office furniture.

Prior to the pandemic, Colecraft had been focusing on creating custom furniture that focused on the reception desk and board room tables. At the start of the pandemic, Messinger said Colecraft officials created a new strategic business plan to be more efficient by offering more office furniture selections to their clients.

To enter new office furniture markets, Colecraft needs new equipment and a marketing plan to build brand awareness – and they need it now.

“There is a sense of urgency,” Messinger said, knowing that his competitors are also targeting remote workers. “We need the help now.”

As for the marketing plan to build brand awareness, Messinger said Colecraft officials are looking to advertise in trade magazines, something they haven’t done before. He said for a two-page color print advertisement to show Colecraft’s furniture selections, it will cost $10,000 just for one. He added, currently, Colecraft does advertise on an online website – MMQB – aimed at dealers, interior designers and architects. He said Colecraft pays the same amount – $10,000 – for 12 pages they use over time.

The marketing plan the company would like to start is estimated to cost $142,000 in the first year.

“Another part of this is direct marketing. In that case, we need the help of an agency to identify the most effective means for contacting people,” he said. “Agencies that specify in this type of work know how to do it the most efficient way.”

As far as equipment, Messinger said they have already received help from the city through a Community Development Block Grant to purchase a new edge banner machine. He said the grant from the city helped to prevent a lag in receiving the new piece of equipment. He added that Colecraft has also purchased a new CNC machine with funding assistance from the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency, which provided a low-interest loan.

Messinger said the new edge banner cost about $95,000 while the new CNC machine will cost $185,000. Another additional piece of equipment the company has purchased is a vacuum hoist system that makes it possible for one worker instead of several to move large wood pieces.

“There are other upgrades that we want to make as well,” he said. “It’s all part of our new effort.”

In February, Crystal Surdyk, city development director, presented to the Jamestown City Council a plan on how to use the $10 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding the city has tentatively earmarked for economic development. Included in that plan was $1.5 million to help manufacturers purchase new equipment and $500,000 to help businesses with sales, marketing and brand awareness plans.

Messinger said he liked the plan Surdyk presented.

“It makes a lot of sense,” he said. “It’s a good thoughtful apportionment of funding to make a positive impact.”

Messinger now hopes that city officials will appropriate the ARPA funds they have promptly.

“(City officials need to) get the money out there during this critical time,” he said.


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