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What is Contract Grade Furniture? | A Complete Guide

Author: becky

Dec. 06, 2023

76 0

Tags: Furniture


What is Contract Grade Furniture?

By Loftwall

January 24, 2023

What is contract grade furniture?

Are you tired of sitting in that old, worn-out office chair that’s been passed down from one employee to the next like a hot potato? Do you dream of lounging on a plush, comfortable sofa in the break room, rather than perched on a plastic chair that’s barely held together with duct tape? If so, you may be in need of some contract furniture.

But what is contract grade furniture, you ask? It’s not just any old furniture – it’s furniture specifically designed and manufactured for commercial spaces. That means it’s built to withstand the rigors of daily use by a large number of people and is designed to be durable, functional, and attractive.

residential vs. commercial furniture

Contract furniture is different from residential furniture in a few key ways. For one, it’s usually made with higher-quality materials and construction techniques, so it can stand up to the wear and tear of daily use. It’s also designed to be functional and practical, with features like easy-to-clean surfaces and adjustable height options.

But just because contract furniture is built to last doesn’t mean it has to be boring! There are plenty of stylish and modern options available, so you can create a comfortable and inviting space that your employees and guests will love.

Types of contract grade furniture

Examples of contract-grade furniture include items like office chairs and desks, lobby furniture, cafe tables and chairs, and room dividers (shocker!). These items are specifically designed and manufactured for use in commercial spaces and are built to withstand the wear and tear of daily use by a large number of people. They are often made with higher-quality materials and construction techniques and are designed to be durable, functional, and attractive.

So why settle for that rickety old office chair when you can upgrade to some sleek, durable contract furniture? Your employees (and your butt) will thank you.

Products featured in this article: Arbor Wood Slat Panels and Framewall Room Divider

Contract Furniture Defined

Simply put Contract furniture is defined as furniture which is designed and manufactured for commercial installation, as in offices, waiting rooms, or lobbies. If you don't work in the office furniture industry, you are likely unfamiliar with the term. In the industry it takes on a little more meaning than that simple definition.

A lot of that has to do with pricing and discount structures in Contract Furniture vs Retail Furniture. The Contract Furniture side of the business is largely project based. The manufacturers use list prices and discount from that based on the size of the project. Contract Furniture is mostly made to order and has longer lead times, but the discount structure for large projects can make it very affordable.

Contract Furniture must go through rigorous third party testing and certifications. Many of these certification are required when selling to Government, Healthcare and Educational organization. Passing the tests necessary to get those certifications is a testament to the quality of these products.

Is Contract Furniture more expensive than Retail?

There is a misconception that Contract Furniture is necessarily more expensive than Retail. It really depends on the size of the project and the size of the manufacturer. That is why Dealerships like OfficeMakers carry multiple manufacturers. We can help you find the best fit for you style and budget.

Many people think that all Contract Furniture manufacturers are huge companies like HON, Allsteel, OFM and so on. But in reality there are many smaller Contract Furniture lines that have very aggressive pricing on smaller projects without sacrificing quality. It is really about finding the best manufacturer and office furniture dealership for you needs.

If you have a year where you know you will have a lot of expansion, then your dealership sales representative or project manager can help you negotiate a BPA or Blanket Purchase Agreement to help you leverage your entire years budget to get you the deepest possible discounts on all of your purchases in a certain time period, usually one year, regardless of how small or large those individual purchases might be.

Is Contract Furniture higher quality than Retail Furniture?

In most cases, yes. In general the testing required to earn their certifications means that on the whole Contract Furniture lines are held to a higher level of quality.

If you have shopped around you have no doubt noticed that some Retail Furniture can be quite expensive, but without third party Contract Furniture certifications like those issued by BIFMA and ANSI there is less of a guarantee of quality. Just because a piece of Retail Furniture doesn't have a certification, it doesn't mean it is necessarily poor quality. It just hasn't been tested by a third party organization.

By reviewing the certifications and your work environment your Contract Furniture Dealership can make sure the furniture being specified will meet your needs and hold up to your work environment, whether that be a small office operating out of a home, or a 24/7 call center operating 365 days a year.

Where can I find Contract Furniture pricing online?

That can be frustrating for individuals who have never dealt with a Contract Furniture Dealership. Manufacturers have MAP or Minimum Advertised Price agreements. A dealership can sell below the MAP price, but cannot advertise below that price. Some Dealerships choose to show some pricing while others do not.

If you are looking to buy one piece of Contract Furniture, and you search for the best price on that one item on the internet, then that is likely as low a price as you are going to find from any other dealer. If that dealer happened to order a container to get deeper discounting it might even be lower than any dealer could sell you that one item. A lot of Contract Dealerships use these items as a lost leader.

If that item is so much cheaper from them then surely all there prices are much lower as well. That is not the case. Most Dealers pick three to five models, usually a best selling chair or cabinet and use those deeply discounted prices to drive traffic to their websites.

If you have a large project or need to order a large quantity of a single item or from a single manufacturer, then your first quote from a Contract Furniture Dealership should almost always be lower than any price for the same item you can see on the internet. Keep in mind that what constitutes a large order for one manufacturer may not for another.

Smaller Contract Furniture Manufacturers start their tiered discounts as low as $15k list. Others don't start until $150k or more. This is where working with a Contract Furniture Dealership like OfficeMakers, Inc. can be so helpful. By working with a professional team you can be confident that you are selecting the best solution for your unique needs.

About The Author

I am an Office Furniture Professional with over 20 years of experience in the Contract and Retail office furniture industry. While I am located in the Greater Houston area, I have specified and fulfilled projects throughout the US and internationally. Please reach out to me if you would like to have a discussion about any aspect of the Contract Furniture industry.

+1 (832) 250-4269

What is Contract Grade Furniture? | A Complete Guide

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