Gensun Grows Up Outdoors
Trends, quality and value define company
Cinde W Ingram -- Casual Living, 9/1/2012 2:00:00 AM
The future looks bright for Casual and outdoor furniture, at least that's the point of view at Gensun Casual Living.
"The outdoor room is in high gear," Gensun President Lisa Zhou said. "People are, more than ever, decorating their outdoor rooms as they are their indoor rooms."
Noting that new construction is incorporating outdoor rooms, she said the Ontario, Calif.-based company is wellpositioned to furnish them in style.
"Gensun will continue to bring new designs that consumers are looking for, new colors and fabrics that allow them to customize and satisfy their tastes, and operate lean and clean so prices remain attractive," Zhou said.
Gensun Casual Living started selling outdoor furniture in 2001 under the ownership of Zhou, David Liu and another partner. At that time the company was known as Genercon Group with corporate headquarters in City of Industry, Calif. The products were varied and included bistro sets, cast and extruded aluminum furniture, gazebos, umbrellas and various outdoor accessories. Company sales were in the $1 million range. But after much evaluation, Zhou and Liu decided that in order to take the company in the right direction they needed to be on their own and hire some help to grow the sales.
Sherry Cai, gener al manager, came on board in 2002. Jan Trinkley, executive VP and director of sales and marketing, joined the company in 2004. In 2004 and 2005, the company expanded its manufacturing facility, refocused its product offering to concentrate on cast aluminum furniture, hired a full team of sales representatives across the United States and Canada, changed its name to Gensun Casual Living and began the process to become a premier manufacturer of casual and outdoor furniture.
Since 2004, Gensun Casual Living has averaged 40% a year growth, introduced 18 furniture collections, seven table collections and numerous accessories, fabrics and frame finishes.
While the recession rocked companies around the globe and rising fuel costs pinched U.S. businesses along with consumers, Gensun weathered the storm and brought a stream of new dealers on board.
"Gensun continually strives to help retailers by providing high quality product with a great price so they can maximize sales and make very good profit dollars," Trinkley said. "Gensun also works with dealers by allowing them to space their purchases over the entire year. This is important in two ways: one, the retailer does not have to step-up to large early buys, and two, the retailer doesn't get stuck with inventory that didn't sell which reduces profits as well."
Gensun manufactures and sells to independent indoor and outdoor furniture retailers, as well as landscape and architecture retailers and Frontgate. "This distribution has served us well with growth and the ability to manufacture one level of quality consistently," Cai said.
At its outset Gensun set the goal of being the best in producing cast aluminum furniture. "Our designs are beautifully detailed for style and comfort," Trinkley said. "We use the best aluminum, alloy - 357, and a molding process that allows the intricacy of the design to be accomplished. We take extra steps in the metal finishing stage to prepare the product for painting and then our paint system uses an eight-stage cleaning system to accomplish a very smooth finish and excellent adhesion of the powder coat base. The antiquing and finally the clear coat paint bring it all together for a product that stands out in the showroom."
"In addition, Gensun produces all of its own products," Zhou said. "From the foundry to the factory to the cushions, we are the manufacturer. This allows us to keep a close watch on every step in the production process to maintain consistent quality and exceptional service."
In 2010, Gensun won the International Casual Furnishings Association's coveted Manufacturer Leadership Award for Cast Aluminum Furniture. Also in 2010, Gensun opened a state-of-the-art 500,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing facility and a 100,000-sq.-ft. foundry in Tianjin, China. That foundry was later expanded to 190,000 square feet.
The company employs approximately 500 people year-round. This number can grow to 800 in peak season.
Gensun Casual Living's corporate headquarters, U.S. warehouse and cushion production are combined in an 80,000-sq.-ft. facility in Ontario, Calif.
Gensun maintains a permanent showroom - suite 16-118 at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago - and participates in the ICFA Preview Show in July and the International Casual Furniture and Accessories Market in September. The company also exhibits at the Hospitality & Design Expo in Las Vegas.
To grow as quickly as it has in just over a decade, Gensun continually follows market and economic trends so that it can be on top in design and color.
"Due to Gensun being very vertical in the manufacturing process we achieve a product that is high quality at a medium price and therefore a very high value," Trinkley said. "This has served us very well in the recent economic times. It will continue to serve us well as consumers shop and compare where to spend their discretionary dollars."
Today, Gensun's principals are excited to have accomplished the company's preliminary goals and look forward to many years ahead producing high design, high quality and high value outdoor and casual furniture.
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