THE INDEPENDENT EDGE
You just can’t make this stuff up, but if you could …
Rolling blackouts in China.
What’s next? Fabric eating locusts? Wood mites with a taste for finished goods? What about an alien invasion on an intergalactic hunt for foam and CNC machine parts?
Just to be clear that’s all fictitious hyperbole. These days, no exaggeration seems out of the realm of possibility.
If I had told you in 2019 that a pandemic was going to drive massive numbers of people to isolate themselves from their fellow human beings for two years and completely disrupt the global supply chain, would you have believed me? What if I added that it would create once-in-a-century consumer demand for furniture? Sound any more plausible?
And oh, by the way, 24 hours after the story broke on China’s rolling blackouts, the International Chamber of Shipping, the International Air Transport Assn., the International Road Transport Union and the International Transport Workers’ Federation teamed up to send an open letter to the U.N. General Assembly warning of a global transport system collapse.
All you need is an ominous musical score and a couple of A-list Hollywood stars, and you’ve got all the ingredients for a dystopian blockbuster. Except this is real, and we can’t leave when the credits roll.
And yet …
Two weeks from now, High Point will be filled with innovative, on-trend and stunningly beautiful new products. Event venues and showrooms will be bustling with renewed activity, and a host of celebrities will be back in town for the first time in more than a year to support their newest offerings.
Even as you read this, ingenious, inventive and dogged manufacturers are carving new paths to product design and development, scouring the globe for new sources of supply and reinventing the product development process.
There is an expression that adversity does not build character; it reveals it. And that is certainly true of the furniture industry over the past two years. For all the difficulties, challenges and constantly changing conditions, people across this industry have found ways to keep moving forward.
Right now, somewhere on the globe, there is a sleep deprived, jet-lagged and overworked executive driving into the middle of nowhere to find a factory to make goods so that his or her customers can keep their floors full. Elsewhere there is a retailer, whose family has been in the furniture business for years, making his or her umpteenth phone call or planning to walk miles at the upcoming market to find product to sell in an effort to keep the lights on.
Everyone sees big events, the movement of masses. The real work, however, is most often done in ones and twos, its impact hidden from view or overshadowed by the noise of the world around us. But it’s no less valuable for its invisibility.
You can’t make this stuff up, but if you could, it would be a story full of heroes, perhaps unsung, but heroes nonetheless.