Over the past 10 years or so, a trend has emerged within the office furniture industry (much like many other industries) of importing product from outside the United States. Much of the imported office furniture comes from Asian manufacturers, while some is from South or Central America and elsewhere. We have observed that there is a wide variety of product quality among the import lines, and it is very important to have a good working relationship and confidence in a given distributor and the products that they resell, as well as a knowledge of warranty policy and reputation for product support.
The simple truth is that a lot of the imported furniture is, for lack of a better term…absolute junk, and the useful life of that product will be a fraction of what most users normally expect. What typically happens is that a major mass market buyer goes to Asian manufacturers with a picture or description of a particular product that they want to purchase, and they give the manufacturer a target price point. These mass market resellers (ie. WalMart, Staples, Office Depot, et al) all compete primarily on price, therefore they want their product to be the most aggressively priced product in the market place, and the Asian manufacturers are very willing to oblige. The problem is, in order to meet the low price points, product quality is sacrificed by using inferior components and materials and/or using design shortcuts in order to save labor…resulting in a junky end product that will fall apart after minimal usage.