Sam Haughton and David Trubridge are two big names in New Zealand furniture that lend themselves to excellence in design. But the once-robust New Zealand furniture industry has as of late struggled against cheaper imported rivals. Now it’s hoped a new initiative by FITEC, the national forest and wood industry training organisation, will change all that. The organisation has launched its ‘Master Seal’ seal of quality that promotes trained staff who produce well-made furniture.
There’s definitely gains to be made from the local industry. Enzed’s furniture industry currently employs 6,000 people with domestic manufacturing sales generating $960 million.
FITEC said the launch of Master Seal aims to counter the effect of a phenomenal growth in low cost imported furniture, mainly from Asia, over the past few years, some of which doesn't meet acceptable quality standards.
Despite New Zealand having a long tradition of producing quality furniture and nurturing young talent, chairman of the Furniture & Cabinet Making Association of New Zealand Blair McKolskey said the industry has struggled to survive in recent years.
"The industry has had its back against the wall as we battle against imported furniture combined with the effect of a world recession which has affected sales across the board," he said. "The industry body wants to demonstrate its commitment to New Zealand craftspeople who are producing quality furniture, and by introducing this seal we are educating and encouraging consumers to buy local."
To gain the seal of approval, companies must be able to prove that at leats 50 percent of staff have a recognised trade qualification or are at leats in training. Company employees are measured against NZQA standards and holders of this Seal guarantee that their employees are trained to these standards.
There are four Master Seals that companies can apply for - Master Furniture Maker, Master Cabinet Maker, Master Bedding Maker and Master FurnitureFinisher (polisher). Consumers can see them clearly marked on the furniture by swing tags or stickers when they make their purchases.