Hanamint relaunching Alu-Mont
Cinde Ingram -- Casual Living, May 1, 2008
Expect to see more Alu-Mont aluminum furniture in residential and contract uses because of investments by parent company Hanamint Corporation during the current climate of increased import pricing pressures.
Since purchasing the 42-year-old casual furniture manufacturer in November, Hanamint refurbished Alu-Mont’s 110,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing facility and offices in Irwindale, Calif., and replaced outdated equipment. A state-of-the-art, energy-efficient lighting system was installed as well as a new racking system.
“We’ve been working primarily inside the building,” said Russ Sorenson, president of Hanamint USA and Alu-Mont. “We kept the name, and all of its existing customer base, because it’s got a great reputation. We fully expect Alu-Mont should have tremendous growth next year just by virtue of what’s going on in the industry.”
The industry faces new challenges with rising costs that will drive up prices, Sorenson said. Material costs for metals were up about 20% in the last couple of months, at the same time China increased its minimum wage. Those and other factors, combined with ocean freight rates hikes on container shipments to be effective this month, are expected to drive up the costs of imported products dramatically. Add those factors to the struggling U.S. economy and escalating costs for fuel and energy.
“These are unique challenges that all seem to be happening at the same time,” Sorenson said. “It’s putting a lot of pressure on pricing. The weakening dollar has been a real struggle for everybody, but the changes in the exchange rate and ocean freight won’t affect Alu-Mont.”
On the other hand, cast and tubular aluminum furniture for Hanamint and its Casa Casual division is made in China.
“The pricing differential between domestic and imports is going to narrow,” Sorenson said. “I wish I could say we saw this coming, but we didn’t. As it turns out, it probably was good timing.”
|Americana cushioned dining set|
Alu-Mont’s tubular and extruded aluminum furniture already had a significant presence in the Western United States when it was purchased by Hanamint. Alu-Mont’s furniture also has appeared for many years at hotel and community pools as well as outdoor areas for apartments and senior centers. Soon, its dealers will have the same access for placing orders via the Internet as they do for Hanamint.
New Alu-Mont collections will debut at the July 9-11 Casual Premarket in Hannamint’s expanded 17th floor showroom at Chicago’s Merchandise Mart.