New furniture company plans for 100 employees

TUPELO – Hoping to grow to 100 employees by this time next year, officials with InnOvation Seating Solutions say now’s the time to get their furniture company off the ground.
“We know the economy’s tough and that the industry is hurting, but we think we’re in a really good position,” said Phil Hoffman, chief operating officer for InnOvation, which makes seating for hotels and assisted living facilities.
Hoffman announced the expansion plans Monday during a news conference at the Community Development Foundation offices.
InnOvation is in the former Westwood Industries building in west Tupelo, operating out of 100,000 square feet with about a dozen employees. It makes chairs, sofas and ottomans.
Operations began April 20. The company expects to have 20 employees by the end of June and 40 by the end of the year.
“Next year, we’re looking to have 100 workers,” said Hoffman, who has been in the furniture industry since 1969
Hoffman’s wife, Barbara, is president of the company. Rounding out the executive team are Bill Cotter, vice president of sales; Ed Bartee, chief financial officer; and Tom Gilmer, vice president of manufacturing.
Together, the group has more than 100 years of furniture industry experience.
Hoffman said the company’s business plan projects sales under $8 million for this year and “$10 million-plus in the next two years.”
“We are focusing on a niche market that hasn’t felt the same pangs as the rest of the furniture industry,” Bartee said. “We are off to a great start and feel that the business will grow.”
It already counts two major hotel chains as customers, including Best Western and Choice Hotels, whose brands include Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality Inn, Sleep Inn, Clarion, Mainstay Suites, Rodeway Inn and Econolodge.
The company also is talking to IHG, whose brands include Holiday Inn, Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, Staybridge Suites, Candlewood Suites and others.
InnOvation’s ability to tailor its manufacturing to each client makes it more immune to imports, Hoffman said. Overseas operations rely on mass quantities.
Bill Martin, director of Mississippi State University’s Franklin Furniture Institute, agrees.
“The key to success is customization, and that’s exactly what this company is doing,” he said. “The people who invest in a down economy are positioned to gain market share when it turns, and it will turn.”

Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or dennis.seid@djournal.com.

Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal