Careful planning provides for seamless expansion of Samsen Furniture's warehouse operations.
Home base for Samsen Furniture is Genoa, a community in Northwest Ohio twenty miles from Toledo. Opened in 1954, it has become a destination of choice for a full line of furniture plus a design center for window treatments, wallpaper, carpeting and a large selection of accessories. Many Samsen Furniture shoppers are also customers of Fine Designs, their specialty living and family room upholstery center in Toledo that is serviced and delivered from Genoa. The company principals, Robert Samsen, Doug Samsen and Chris Thornberry promote name brand product lines to draw customers. They support these lines with broad selections and pursue excellence throughout the sales and customer service process. Some of their manufacturers are Thomasville, Broyhill, La-Z-Boy, Sealy, Rowe, C.R. Laine, Lane, Stanley and Palliser. Merchandise price points are middle to upper middle. The store enjoys strong walk in trade with their best business focused on design and in home selling.
The store's exterior and interior selling spaces were updated in 1998 with design work by Connie Post Companies. The "new fresh" look includes Thomasville and Broyhill Galleries, the only galleries in their trading area. Word of mouth endorsements and advertising make Samsen's a "must see" furniture store in this market.
THE WAREHOUSE CHALLENGE
The expansion did exactly what was intended; expand sales into a larger geographic area. These additional sales put heavy demands on warehouse and delivery facilities. Samsen Furniture also experienced pressure on warehouse operations due to the ever-increasing use of shrink and bag upholstery packaging. These, of course, cannot be stacked like corrugated boxes.
Management decided that they needed to immediately increase the cube utilization of the existing 10,000 square foot 1994 warehouse. They also needed a plan to expand the receiving/shipping space and to anticipate growth with a preliminary plan for a high bay warehouse.
The 1994 warehouse was built with future racking in mind with clear roof height of 15 to 20 feet and a clear span. Initially only wooden shelves were installed. The lack of columns provided complete flexibility to develop the optimum rack layout. With exception of two-high storage in the mattress area, the new plan called for four levels. Cantilever racks were to be positioned in the center of the building and conventional racks along the sidewalls to provide heavy-duty storage and versatility. As part of the overall plan, it was decided to re-position lighting parallel to the aisles.
Quality used racking was located nearby and installed. Samsen chose two new Raymond Gofer stock pickers for their ability to effectively navigate the desired 44-inch aisles, operator convenience and tight turning radius. Gofers provided a clear technical advantage and value over other brands or even used equipment. Overall, storage capacity was increased by about one third so that it is no longer necessary to move several items to retrieve other stock.
The next phase of the plan to increase space was underway while this issue was being printed. By mid summer, there will be 12,000 square feet for receiving, preparation and staging for delivery.
Enhanced customer service is one of the ways Samsen meets challenges from other retailers, catalog and Internet furniture merchants. With about 20% of catalog and Internet purchases returned, many consumers have clearly been dissatisfied with their purchasing experience.
Samsen's will have a clear advantage over regional and national competitors with their superior preparation and flexible delivery scheduling.
The bottom line is that Robert Samsen, Doug Samsen and Chris Thornberry have proven that by planning and expanding carefully, they can protect the livelihoods of their forty-five employees and set the stage for further growth.
Daniel Bolger of The Bolger Group helps companies achieve improved transportation, warehousing and logistics. Questions can be directed to Mr. Bolger care of FURNITURE WORLD at firstname.lastname@example.org