Luxury furniture maker Wesley Hall suspends production due to foam shortage
HICKORY, N.C. - Luxury upholstery furniture maker Wesley Hall has suspended all production for the week of March 29 - April 2 due to the ongoing foam shortage.
The company will also operate on a reduced schedule for the two weeks following April 2. Wesley expects the foam shortage to ease after the next three weeks.
“Late last week, it became apparent that our foam and cushion supply was no longer in a position that would allow us to continue that strategy,” the company wrote in a letter to customers. “Our largest cushion supplier has been forced to close for two weeks, and our second largest supplier is currently working a very abbreviated schedule.”
“We believe that once we weather the next three weeks, we will begin to see improvement.”
The shortage comes at an unfortunate time for Wesley and other furniture makers - many of whom have been seeing a sharp increase in demand. Residential furniture orders saw a 27 percent rise in December 2020 from the same month in 2019, and a 15 percent increase for entire year of 2020 over 2019.
The shortage began early March. 
The two chemicals used in foam production are primarily produced at plants in Texas and Louisiana. Many of these facilities were forced offline by the deep freeze that slammed the region late February.
It has forced cutbacks for many furniture makers, including Craftmaster, Century Furniture, and Mississipp-based Affordable Furniture. High Point Furniture Industries announced it would raise all its prices by 6 percent.
Chemical manufacturer EverChem explains the shortage in a blog post. Here's a snippet:
"Because foam is light and bulky, it is not efficient to ship very far to the various end users such as furniture manufacturers, bedding, seating and other customers. Consequently the many foam plants are located close to the end use markets and are spread around North America.
"Foam is made using a number of chemicals, but the main two are polyol and toluene diisocyanate (TDI). It takes roughly two parts of polyol and one part of TDI to make foam. Foam plants buy these raw materials and have them delivered by either railcars or tank trucks. A typical foam plant will have storage tanks that are big enough to offload a few railcars (180,000 lbs each) or tank trucks (45,000 lbs each). They don’t carry a large inventory of these raw materials, but depend upon a steady and timely supply of railcars and trucks in order to produce the foam for their customers.

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Robert Dalheim

Robert Dalheim is an editor at the Woodworking Network. Along with publishing online news articles, he writes feature stories for the FDMC print publication. He can be reached at [email protected].