With each piece of outdoor furniture it sells, Jensen Leisure Furniture helps support more than its staff of employees — it helps to sustain a community.
Based in Riverside, CA, Jensen Leisure Furniture is a partnership between entrepreneur Max Jensen and CIMAL/IMR, a division of The Roda Group based in Bolivia. CIMAL/IMR runs the manufacturing operation and manages the 2.1 million acre forest reserve in the Chiquitanía region in Bolivia, where the ipé used in the Jensen furniture is sustainably harvested under a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) forest management plan.
“At this moment, Jensen is the only ipé FSC-certified garden furniture line,” says Robert Simeone, chief forester for Jensen Leisure Furniture.
To receive FSC certification, the operation must demonstrate economic, environmental and social responsibility. CIMAL/IMR — and through it Jensen — has made a commitment to improving the lives of the people in the eastern Bolivian region. Among other things, it has built permanent forest camps for the field crews, including potable water, dining halls, dormitories and medical facilities.
Along with its FSC certification, CIMAL/IMR is committed to maintaining a permanent forest estate and using selective harvesting to ensure that the quality and availability of the wood species endures for years to come.
“This is a very important aspect for our dealers and their customer base,” Simeone says. “Nobody buys a complete collection of garden furniture in one year — they go back over [time] and add elements to their collection.” The fact that Jensen Leisure Furniture can assure its customers of the availability of a product line 10 years down the road “is a big selling point,” he adds.
|Made from 100% FSC Pure certified ipé, this Amber Bench
stands 43 inches wide, 34-3/4 inches deep and has a depth
of 23-3/4 inches.
“By having the FSC certification, not only will the ipé not go away over time, but the quality will remain constant/true because we’ll always have 100-year-old trees to cut,” Simeone continues.
The wood from trees harvested from dry, tropical forest regions such as Chiquitanía tends to be larger and more dense because of the tree’s slow growth. Once cut, the trees are assigned an FSC Chain of Custody code that then can be tracked throughout the sawmill, rough mill and secondary manufacturing process, all the way through sale to the consumer.
“One of the things that’s unique to Jensen is that we’re 100 percent FSC Pure [and not mixed sources]. Another thing that makes us unique is 100 percent of our own products go in the market labeled as an FSC product,” Simeone says.
There are approximately 70 skus currently in the Jensen Leisure Furniture product line, which encompasses a range of seating, chaises, tables, benches and accessory items. The company works with a host of international designers, including artists from Italy, Scandinavia and the United States, to develop new products annually.
Jensen developed its garden furniture line around the chocolate-brown ipé not only because of its abundant supply in the Chiquitanía forest region, but for its strength, durability and resistance to insects and mold.
Only the heartwood — the most dimensionally stable part of the ipé tree — is used in Jensen’s products. According to Hlodvar Olafsson, managing director of CIMAL/IMR, the lumber is dried to 12 percent moisture content before being crosscut and pre-moulded using a variety of standard and CNC machines, including Weinig moulders.
A number of high-tech machines also are used in the secondary machining process, including Heian CNC routers, Heesemann CNC sanders and Balestrini CNC machining centers. Manufacturing at the 425,000-square-foot plant in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, is done on a just-in-time basis, although a small inventory of parts is maintained, Olafsson says.
The furniture components are assembled before undergoing a final touchup. According to Olafsson, Jensen Leisure Furniture’s products feature traditional interlocking mortise and tenon construction as well as dowel joinery, so the components have the tight, moisture-sealed joints essential for outdoor furniture use.
Ipé itself is ideal for outdoor use because it weathers well and is resistant to splintering, decay, insects and rot. To enhance the natural, rich chocolate-brown color of ipé, only a light tint and UV protectorant is applied to the furniture components. “It’s a very beautiful wood that is quite unique,” Olafsson says.
To ensure the products are free of defects and adhere to exact engineered machining tolerances, quality control checks are performed throughout the production process, Olafsson says. In addition, Jensen Leisure Furniture reports that each piece of its recreational furniture has been laboratory tested to ensure it meets or exceeds commercial application specifications.
Depending on the product, the furniture is shipped fully assembled or flat-packed in sub-assemblies. “We ship approximately 50 containers a year of ipé furniture,” Olafsson says.
In addition to being the production arm for Jensen Leisure Furniture, which is CIMAL/IMR’s only partnership brand, the company also manufactures furniture and flooring for other subsidiaries. Overall, CIMAL/IMR employs more than 2,500 people in its manufacturing and forest operations, more than half of which are from the local communities. An additional 9,000 subcontractors also work for CIMAL/IMR operations.
Marketing in the United States
Jensen Leisure Furniture sells its outdoor recreational furniture through a network of retailers located throughout North America, such as The Great Escape. The company has a 15-year history in the United States, having sold leisure furniture made from jarrah through Max Jensen’s former company and brand, Jensen Jarrah.
To learn more about the Jensen-CIMAL/IMR relationship, and for additional information on Jensen Leisure Furniture’s 100-percent FSC Pure certified ipé garden furniture products, visit JensenLeisureFurniture.com.
Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.