Anywhere & Forever
By Tom Lassiter
There’s a widely held assumption that the most enthusiastic fans of resin lumber furniture live on the water. It’s true that the durable, weighty, maintenance-free furniture enjoys its greatest acceptance near the seashore or wherever there is waterfront living.
But the allure of this carefree, durable furniture can be just as strong far from any beach.
Take, for example, Cardinal Pool and Outdoor in Champaign, Illinois, which is more than 750 miles from the nearest salt water in the Gulf of Mexico.
Store manager Sharon Pauza, whose family has owned the shop for decades, is a recent resin convert. The shop signed up with furniture maker Berlin Gardens for the 2013 season.
“I was able to crank out about $45,000 in Berlin Gardens (products) in six-months time,” Pauza says. “I couldn’t be happier.”
The furniture, she says, “has a wonderful story that’s easy to sell.” She particularly likes that it’s designed and built in Ohio. Growing numbers of shoppers, she says, prefer “Made in USA” products.
The North American-made story is a common thread that links the leading brands of resin lumber furniture. While the plastics used to make the furniture may seem similar to the layman, furniture companies do their best to distinguish their specific resin materials by name.
Telescope refers to its resin material as Marine Grade Polymer (MGP), while Seaside Casual calls its plastic by the more generic HDPE, for high-density polyethylene. Casual Living Products uses “100 percent post-consumer plastics” for its Breezesta brand, and a certain type of shopper enjoys knowing that her new outdoor furniture prevented thousands of plastic milk jugs and detergent bottles from spending eternity in landfills.
Casual Living Products, says owner Jim Allgyer, is a fully integrated operation. Truckloads of plastic bottles arrive to be sorted, ground, melted, colored, milled, planed, routed and cut into components to make new Breezesta furniture.
POLYWOOD-brand furniture also uses “a high percentage of post-consumer materials,” with less than 10 percent of the plastic coming from virgin sources. Plastic lumber by Poly-Wood is used to make Trex-brand resin furniture.
Retailers interviewed by Hearth & Home say resin lumber furniture has benefits that endear it to resellers. Jack Westrich, owner of Westrich Furniture in Delphos, Ohio, says the product is virtually service-free, with no instances of fading. “Berlin Gardens is a monster for us,” he says. Over the last three years, “the growth has been amazing.”
Westrich particularly likes that mass merchants don’t have any similar competitive products, nor are they likely to acquire any. The quality materials necessary to make resin lumber price it out of the mass merchant spectrum. A competitive product isn’t likely to be shipped in from Asia, because transportation costs for the heavy furniture would be prohibitive.
The majority of resin lumber furniture styles follow classic outdoor furniture designs, with the Adirondack chair well represented. Telescope’s new Bazza collection blends MGP with aluminum sling for a fresh new look, while Seaside Casual’s SYM collection introduces that company’s first shaped materials for chair backs and seating surfaces. SYM (Simple, Youthful, Modern), says vice president Andy Boyce, has a more contemporary look that fits the company’s embrace of M.O.D. (Modern Outdoor Design).
Boyce says 2013 Casual Furniture Market buyers responded well to the SYM collection, but with caution.
“It’s a higher price point than they are used to in the plastic industry,” he says. A seven-piece dining set (80-in. table, two armchairs and four side chairs) retails for about $6,100. “That’s a healthy price tag, but what’s been exciting is that dealers haven’t been afraid of it.
“We developed this category carefully, with intentions to expand the M.O.D. product,” he says. “We’re also trying to reach some of the contract business that’s out there.”
Telescope has made inroads into the contract business with its MGP products, says president Henry Vanderminden IV. The MGP line debuted seven years ago, and the company is expanding production capacity at its upstate New York factory.
“It’s a fantastic category for us,” Vanderminden says. “It keeps growing every year.”
Allgyer, maker of Breezesta, says retailers who continue to think that resin furniture won’t do well far from the water are short-changing themselves. The furniture, he says, sells “anywhere there are nice sunsets,” which expands the possibilities considerably.
Year ’Round Comfort & Appeal
When boys are being boys, you know they’ll need a bit of warmth and comfort when they’re finished. HDPE plastic Adirondack chairs hold up in any weather and will never rot, mold, chip or splinter. They will never need painting or staining, and even salt water can’t damage them. Available in 16 colors plus standard two-tone black and beige; backed by a Limited Lifetime Warranty.
From C.R. Plastic Products; visit www.crpproducts.com.
Luxury Outdoor Dining
Oval pedestal dining table and chairs made of plastic lumber are perfect for high-end customers. The table has aluminum embedded in the framing for added durability and comes in several colors, sizes and shapes (round, square or oval) to fit a variety of settings. Comfortable Adirondack deluxe dining chairs have sturdy contoured seats, angled backs for comfort and come in a choice of many colors.
From By the Yard; visit www.bytheyard.net.
Shade and Chaise Luxury
Sol Cabana is designed to supply retractable cover for any chaise up to 32-in. wide and is made from Roto-molded, high-density polyethylene with a cover of Sunbrella fabric. The cabana is lightweight, easily expandable and retracts into its base for storage. Optional sand wheels are available. The Sol Bresa chaise is made of a recycled plastic lumber frame and has stainless-steel accents for added support.
From Terra Furniture; visit www.terrafurniture.com.
The Chandler collection fits any outdoor environment, from a home garden to a contract location. With a super-durable aluminum frame and MGP seat and back, the collection stands up well to outdoor weather conditions. Homeowners can create a contrasting look by choosing a different powder-coat finish in marine-grade polymer colors.
From Telescope Casual Furniture; visit www.telescopecasual.com.
For extra comfort, Classic Terrace Deep Seating has a sling material platform beneath the seat cushion. Made of 100-percent recycled plastic, the collection features superior construction and design, stands up to the elements and requires no special maintenance. Terrace Deep Seating is available in a variety of fade resistant classic colors. Durable and attractive, seats offer the ultimate in comfort for relaxing poolside or on the patio.
From Berlin Gardens; visit www.berlingardensllc.com.
The Perfect Choice
Designed with traditional contours, the large table and 16 chairs are perfect for entertaining by the pool or Outdoor Room. Made of Weatherall recycled poly lumber, each piece in the collection withstands all weather conditions. Features include stainless-steel hardware and easy-to-clean resin table and chair surfaces.
From Perfect Choice Furniture; visit www.perfectchoicefurniture.com or www.birdschoice.com.
The South Beach Ultimate Adirondack chair features a hideaway ottoman for comfort and convenience. The chair is made of HDPE POLYWOOD lumber that looks like painted wood (choose from 13 fade resistant colors). South Beach is durable, requires no waterproofing and does not splinter, crack or rot and stands up to outdoor elements. Cleaning the chair is easy with soap and water.
From Poly-Wood; visit www.polywoodinc.com.
With great comfort and design, Tiffany seats are constructed of Kettalux-Plus polymer with two-component injection molding process and robotically applied lacquered finish with UV inhibitors. The seat and back are extra wide for optimal comfort. Complex contours offer beauty and ideal ergonomics. Tiffany seats are 100 percent recyclable.
From Kettler International; visit www.kettlerusa.com.
Classic and Elegant
The Adirondack Shellback Balcony Chair and Portsmouth Balcony Table combine classic design and the added motif of elegance inspired by the sea. The table comes in a variety of sizes to fit any outdoor space. The Balcony Collection is durable, features all hidden fasteners and is made of Envirowood, 100 percent recycled, high-density, polyethylene lumber. The collection resists fading or chalking and is non-corrosive and resistant to the elements.
From Seaside Casual Furniture; visit www.seasidecasual.com.