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Thrifty Mindset Spurs Furniture Co.’s Hiring

Anaheim’s Technigroup USA Inc. is looking to expand as many furniture makers still are recovering from the worst of the downturn.

The maker of budget office furniture, part of Singapore’s Technigroup Far East Pte Ltd., plans to add up to 60 workers in Anaheim by year’s end.

The company now employs about 30 people locally.

Sales of Technigroup’s office desks, cubicles and chairs has spurred demand for design engineers, sales representatives, assembly workers and customer service representatives, according to marketing director Nancee Taft.

Next year, Technigroup projects it may need to add 40 to 50 more workers to keep up with sales.

“We’re growing very rapidly on increased sales from companies that are looking for affordable office furniture,” Taft said.

With office furniture that sells for 40% to 60% less than other suppliers, Technigroup is grabbing business from expanding companies that still are cautious about spending, she said.

“Companies aren’t ready to buy high-ticket office furniture and are looking to low-cost alternatives,” Taft said. “Companies are not willing to invest huge amounts of money into office furniture like they used to.”

These days, Technigroup largely competes with sellers of used furniture that was acquired by companies that closed or cut back on space, according to Taft.

Technigroup also competes with Michi-gan’s Steelcase Inc. and Minnesota’s Herman Miller Inc.

Turnaround

Some see the office furniture market turning.

“We believe U.S. office furniture manufacturers have shown improving trends and that this positive momentum will continue over the next year as demand recovers,” said Rick Joy, an analyst with New York-based Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC, part of McGraw-Hill Cos.

Technigroup’s looking to expand along the West Coast with branches planned for San Francisco and Portland, Ore.

Each branch would be a smaller version of the Anaheim facility with warehouse space, designers and customer service.

“Anaheim will be where we grow out from,” Taft said.

Most of Technigroup’s furniture is designed in Singapore in modern European styles. The furniture is made and assembled in Singapore, Malaysia and China and shipped to Anaheim.

Much of the furniture looks like it could be sold at Ikea stores.

“We don’t shy away from being compared to Ikea because they are an affordable brand with European styling,” Taft said.

The company started doing business in the U.S. from Anaheim in 2008 with 10 workers and focuses on sales from global clients with U.S. operations.

The Anaheim office handles sales, marketing, local design and assembly.

Technigroup was started in 1984 in Singapore by Lindy Lin, managing director and founder of the parent company.

His daughter, Shiuyi Lin, runs the U.S. headquarters as chief executive.

The company declined to comment on yearly sales.

The Business Journal estimates Techni-group’s U.S. sales at about $25 million.

The company’s products have been installed in offices across Asia and the Middle East.

In the U.S., Technigroup has provided office furniture for Nike Inc., Qualcomm Inc. and Dreamworks Animation SKG Inc.

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