AHFA Petitions CPSC to Adopt CA Flammability Standard

HIGH POINT, N.C., November 2, 2015 – The American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) has petitioned the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to adopt the upholstered furniture performance standards and flammability test methods prescribed by California’s Technical Bulletin 117-2013.

AHFA filed the petition October 30 on behalf of a Joint Industry Coalition representing a diverse group of stakeholders who have been working on upholstered furniture flammability issues for decades. The petition proposes that the standards and test methods in TB 117-2013 be adopted as a national, mandatory flammability standard for residential upholstered furniture under the Flammable Fabrics Act.

“This petition provides the CPSC with an opportunity to bring closure to the longstanding issue of furniture flammability,” states Bill Perdue, AHFA’s vice president of regulatory affairs.

Groups participating in the coalition include: the American Fiber Producers Association, Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association, International Association of Fire Fighters, National Cotton Council of America, National Council of Textile Organizations, North American Home Furnishings Association, Polyurethane Foam Association and Upholstered Furniture Action Council.

For 40 years, the CPSC has been evaluating whether it should adopt national regulations that would establish flammability standards for residential upholstered furniture. In 2008, after almost 15 years of regulatory activity, the CPSC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that outlined a flammability standard primarily focused on protecting consumers from fires started by smoking materials. The CPSC focused on a smolder test, because cigarettes are the source of ignition in 90 percent of the upholstered furniture fires that result in a fatality.

The effort stalled, however, as competing stakeholders argued for an open-flame test, and environmental groups expressed deepening concern that flame retardants would be needed to meet those testing requirements.

The 2013 amendments to TB 117 resulted from an extensive regulatory review process that included the active participation of fire safety experts, the furniture manufacturing industry, environmental groups and many others. It essentially achieved the same objectives as the CPSC’s proposed 2008 rule by focusing on the risk of smolder ignition of cover fabrics.

Adoption of this standard under the Flammable Fabrics Act, coupled with a robust labeling program that attests to a manufacturer’s compliance with the required test methods and performance standards, would create a national standard that addresses the issue of smolder ignition for residential upholstered furniture, saves lives and reduces losses at a relatively low cost to the CPSC, the industry and the consumer.


The American Home Furnishings Alliance, based in High Point, N.C., represents more than 200 leading furniture manufacturers and distributors and over 150 suppliers to the furniture industry worldwide. AHFA is the voice of the home furnishings industry on Capitol Hill – and elsewhere throughout the United States – on all legislative and regulatory matters that impact the manufacture and import of residential furnishings for the U.S. market.

High Point Market sets date changes

Roseville CA, October 14, 2015 – The High Point Market Authority has shortened Market by one day beginning spring 2016, and to avoid conflict with a major Jewish holiday has changed the dates of the fall 2016 market.
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Beginning in spring 206, High Point Market will officially operate Saturday through Wednesday. In light of the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur on Tuesday, Oct. 11, and Wednesday, Oct. 12, the fall 2016 market originally scheduled for Oct.15-19, has been moved to October 22-26 next year.
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AHFA Sponsors Furniture Safety Symposium

Bill Perdue, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs for the American Home Furnishings Alliance and chairman of the ASTM Subcommittee on Furniture Safety, along with  CPSC Commissioner Marietta Robinson at an all-industry furniture safety meeting August 18 in High Point, N.C.

Bill Perdue, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs for the American Home FurnishingsAlliance and chairman of the ASTM Subcommittee on Furniture Safety, along with CPSC Commissioner Marietta Robinson at an all-industry furniture safety meeting August 18 in High Point, N.C. // Photo by Michele Morris, AHFA

HIGH POINT, N.C., AUGUST 19, 2015 – The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), ASTM International, UL, national child safety organizations and more than 40 manufacturers of residential and commercial furniture assembled here yesterday for a furniture safety symposium sponsored by the American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA).

Representatives from the American Society of Furniture Designers, the North American Home Furnishings Association, the Consumer Electronics Association and manufacturers of tip restraints also were on hand for the day-long discussion focused on reducing the number of furniture and television tip-over accidents.

According to CPSC data, TV and furniture tip-over incidents have failed to decline in recent years, now killing a child every two weeks, on average, and sending 38,000 Americans, mostly children, to emergency rooms.

CPSC Commissioner Marietta Robinson opened the meeting by telling furniture manufacturers that it is “unrealistic” to think that the safety issue can be addressed by educating parents to use tip restraints.

“We must do more … and we must begin by designing furniture to be more stable,” she said.

Furniture stability is addressed in the ASTM voluntary tip-over standard, a specification first adopted in 2000 and updated three times since then, most recently in 2014. ASTM is a globally recognized leader in the development of international voluntary consensus standards.

The ASTM Subcommittee on Furniture Safety has jurisdiction over four standards. In addition to the furniture tip-over standard, there is an ASTM standard for furniture tip restraints, one for horizontal glass used for desks and tables and one for cedar chests. There are approximately 130 voting members on the subcommittee, according to AHFA Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Bill Perdue, who chairs the committee.

Robinson said the CPSC favors voluntary industry standards when they are effective and when an industry can demonstrate widespread compliance. But she described the furniture tip-over standard as “insufficient” and said the industry must work toward “broader compliance.”

Many members of the subcommittee that oversees the furniture tip-over standard attended Tuesday’s meeting, which included a demonstration of the two tip tests specified in the standard.

The first test requires that the unit not tip over when all of the drawers and doors (if any) are opened. The second test requires drawers and/or doors to be opened one at a time and a 50-pound weight to be applied to the outside edge, again without the piece tipping over. The 50-pound weight is meant to simulate the weight of an average 5-year-old child. These two tests were demonstrated on three different furniture pieces during the meeting – all of which remained stable when the weights were applied.

Perdue noted that, although the standard requires that a tip restraint be enclosed with the piece of furniture, the restraints are not intended to be the primary safety measure in the standard.

“This is not an either/or proposition,” he emphasized repeatedly. “The standard requires the furniture to pass both of the performance tests. You cannot enclose tip restraints and then not test to the performance requirements.”

But Robinson pointed out that at least one company is using language in the introduction to the standard to claim that the performance requirements are not applicable if the consumer does not use the supplied tip restraints.

The introduction states that the specification does not apply “to products that are blatantly misused” by the consumer, including disregarding the instructions and warnings supplied with the product. Industry executives who worked on the standard said the introduction was intended to emphasize that products constructed to meet the specification could still fail if the product was misused by the consumer.

Robinson, who practiced as a trial attorney for 35 years before being appointed to the CPSC, said the introduction was “poorly written” and, therefore, created the potential legal loophole. She described the argument of the company in question as “unconscionable,” given that a consumer’s failure to use tip restraints is a “misuse” that is “completely foreseeable.” But she urged the industry to rewrite the introduction anyway.

A task group from the ASTM Subcommittee on Furniture Safety met during the last two hours of the August 18 symposium and set priorities based on the day’s presentations and discussions. The task group agreed rewriting the introduction to the tip-over standard to eliminate any possible legal loopholes should be the first priority.

Another update to the standard as a result of the symposium will likely be an increase in the standard 50-pound weight required for the performance tests. Arthur Lee, an engineer on the CPSC staff who worked with the appliance industry on a tip-over safety standard for freestanding ranges, pointed out that 50 pounds was the average weight of a five-year-old in 1977. The CPSC is now updating its data using more current weight averages. The task force agreed it should obtain the CPSC’s new data and update the tip-over standard accordingly.

Additional measures discussed included:

  • Furniture anchoring systems that would not require tools to install or that would not require holes in the wall.
  • Making tip restraints more conspicuous to the consumer, including making them a brighter color or having the furniture side of the tip restraint bracket “pre-installed” on the back of the furniture.
  • An industry label that distinguishes between compliant and non-compliant products.
  • More involvement from the television industry, including the possibility of having tip prevention information included in the remote control set-up tutorials on new televisions.

The task force will report on all of these measures at the next ASTM furniture safety subcommittee meeting in October.

HighJump acquires leading ecommerce platform Nexternal

MINNEAPOLIS and CARLSBAD – May 26, 2015 – HighJump, a global provider of supply chain management solutions today announced that it has acquired Nexternal, a leading cloud-based eCommerce platform provider based in California.

Nexternal provides an omni-channel commerce platform that serves manufacturers, distributors and retailers. Nexternal’s platform includes a functionally rich order management system that captures both business-to-business and business-to-consumer orders, via standard and mobile web browsers. Going beyond traditional eCommerce, companies use Nexternal’s commerce platform to run call centers, generate and manage subscription orders, retrieve Amazon marketplace orders, create club orders and receive orders from other systems via its API. The system acts as the single hub for all pricing, promotions, status and customer care related to the order management lifecycle.

“HighJump continues to build on our strategy of providing end-to-end supply chain solutions built upon a common, adaptable technology platform,” said Michael Cornell, CEO of HighJump. “The acquisition of Nexternal adds important commerce capabilities to further deliver upon HighJump’s omni-channel vision and provides new options for HighJump’s 14,000 global customers.”

“The combination of Nexternal and HighJump will allow us to bring a unique set of technologies to our customers and our markets. Through its TrueCommerce division, HighJump is currently facilitating B2B transactions via EDI. For those customers, we can provide a second option – capturing B2B transactions via the web,” said Alex Gile, founder and President of Nexternal. “Furthermore, currently there is not a single provider of a unified eCommerce platform and warehouse management system. We look forward to changing that with this combination. I am confident that this combination provides great benefits for our customers, and provides long-term opportunity for our employees. I really could not be more excited to execute on this vision with Michael and his team.”

About Nexternal
Nexternal has been providing its enterprise class eCommerce platform since 2000. Unlike template-based systems, the Nexternal platform maintains the customer’s branding, navigation, and website design throughout the entire shopping experience. The powerful, easy-to-use platform is search engine optimized, mobile-friendly, integrated with social networks, and includes a powerful XML Toolset. To learn more, visit http://www.nexternal.com.

About HighJump
HighJump is a global provider of supply chain management software and trading partner network technology that streamlines the flow of inventory and information from supplier to store shelf. We support more than 14,000 customers in 77 countries, ranging from small businesses to global enterprises. Our functionally rich and highly adaptable solutions efficiently manage customers’ warehousing, manufacturing, transportation, distribution, trading partner integration, delivery routes and retail stores. For more information, visit http://www.highjump.com.

HighJump and HighJump Software are trademarks of HighJump Software Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.

Canadian Furniture Show opens tomorrow

CFSlogoMississauga, June 3, 2015 – The 43rd edition of the Canadian Furniture Show, the only national furniture show in the country and the 7th largest trade show in Canada, opens tomorrow for four days, welcoming the Canadian furniture industry, as well as exhibitors and visitors from the United States and worldwide. The 2015 edition will introduce several new features including the addition of a Consumer Day on Sunday, June 7. The public will have the opportunity to see 425,000 square feet of furniture showrooms created by some 250 exhibitors.

Consumer Day is a significant change to the event which has essentially been a trade show for over 40 years. Previously known as The Canadian Home Furnishings Market or TCHFM, the 2015 Show has a new name and logo and was moved from January to June. These and numerous other changes were requested by the industry and steered by a National Advisory Committee which included 15 professionals from different industry sectors and from various regions of the country. The Committee prioritized solutions to attract new exhibitors and visitors and ensure the event’s sustainability and growth.

“As industry professionals have done for several decades, the public will be able to see thousands of furniture pieces, appliances, mattresses, rugs, lighting, and accessories before they are available in the stores!” stated Pierre Richard, the President and CEO of the Show. “Having a Consumer Day provides exhibitors with a unique opportunity to communicate directly with consumers, get a first-hand view of their reaction to their products, and gain some exposure for their brand. As for the Show, holding a Consumer Day became a must to attract new exhibitors, enhance the visibility of the event and the entire Canadian industry, and ensure the revival of the Show.” The 2015 Canadian Furniture Show will feature 95 new exhibitors, which is more than double the average of recent years.

Moreover, to enhance the visitor’s experience, the Show features two design presentations on Sunday, June 7. At 10:30 a.m., Canadian designer Karen Sealy, a popular TV host, multiple award-winning designer, and official spokesperson for the 2015 Canadian Furniture Show, will share her passion for design. And at 1:00 p.m., visitors will be treated to a rare presentation by highly acclaimed design experts, Steven Sabados and Chris Hyndman, well-known for their daily television show Steven and Chris.

There will be an exclusive pre-Consumer day media tour on Thursday and Friday mornings, from 9 to 11 a.m.
Media representatives can come directly to the Press Room (Aquarius room, in the Conference Centre).

The Canadian Furniture Show has been held since 1972 and is produced by the Quebec Furniture Manufacturers’ Association. The only national furniture show in the country and the 7th largest trade show in Canada, it brings together industry professionals, manufacturers, retailers, designers, and others, from Canada, the United States, and worldwide, to display their latest collections and trends. The 2015 Show will be held from June 4 to June 7, at The International Centre, in Mississauga, Ontario; it will be open to consumers on Sunday, June 7.

MicroD introduces Express Delivery solution

Express LogoMay 28, 2015 — Charlotte, NC – MicroD Incorporated, providing innovative furniture merchandising solutions for over 21 years, has developed the new Express Delivery program, utilizing advanced merchandising and eCommerce best practices. The program, currently in use by MicroD partner Ashley Furniture, is a quick delivery option for furniture and accessories maintained in inventory at all times, and offered by manufacturers.

“Ashley Furniture is a great company with a great team, great products, and of course – fantastic retailers. Many of these retailers are also MicroD clients. Over the last few months, MicroD worked tirelessly with the team at Ashley to craft the Express offering – packaging it on our latest responsive OmniVue ecommerce platform. This solution works as a standalone – or as part of an existing retailer website. I am confident that this will be a technology win for anyone that participates,” said Jesse Akre, Sr. Vice President of eCommerce at MicroD.

Express Delivery is a fully responsive standalone solution or sub-domain supported and built on MicroD’s unique OmniVue platform. It provides a fresh and clean user experience that can be used to augment a retailer’s current website and utilizes the Ashley Catalog, managed and maintained by MicroD. Express Delivery can go live by MicroD in 3 to 5 weeks, with Ashley approval. The program is fully ecommerce enabled, complete with PayPal Pro integration, and works seamlessly with the optional new OmniPlanner room planner. Items available for the program will have a special badge indicating they’re available for Express Delivery, and shoppers can even filter items by the Express Delivery option.

“With the inception of Express Delivery we have taken online furniture merchandising and ecommerce to a whole new level,” said Cole Sianko, Vice President of Marketing and Advertising at Ashley Furniture. “Ashley recognizes shoppers’ need for rapid delivery, and our number one goal is always customer satisfaction. As a leader in home furnishings, we are confident the Express Delivery program will significantly improve the online shopping and buying experience for consumers.”

Contact: Mona Nigam
Executive Vice President
Phone: 704-927-3181
Email: monanigam@microdinc.com

AHFA Responds to NYT Formaldehyde Article

HIGH POINT, N.C. – May 5, 2015 — The American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) disputes its characterization in the May 4 edition of the New York Times as an organization opposed to a federal formaldehyde standard.

For more than a decade, AHFA and its member companies have supported and been actively involved in the development of formaldehyde emission standards in the United States.

“We supported California’s adoption of the most stringent formaldehyde emission standard in the world, and we have worked closely with EPA officials to help achieve a strong and enforceable federal regulation,” states AHFA CEO Andy Counts.

The Times article reported that opposition from the home furnishings industry delayed and hampered the federal government’s attempt to “control substances known to be harmful to human health.”

“AHFA has consistently worked to help achieve an effective regulatory framework that would provide our industry with reliable mechanisms for demonstrating compliance with emission standards across a vast, global supply chain,” Counts continues. “We provided EPA officials with a technical perspective that helped frame the legislative language in the federal standard – including the requirement for the EPA to develop implementing rules for its standard. The Times characterization of an industry at odds with regulators couldn’t be farther from the truth.”

The Times report also omitted the impact of the 2008 formaldehyde regulation adopted by the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The regulation phased in restrictions on formaldehyde emissions from composite wood products and, when the final limits were fully in place by 2012, the regulation became the toughest production standard in the world for formaldehyde emissions from wood products. As the “de facto” global standard, consumers nationwide have already realized the benefits of this regulation for seven years.

Counts notes that AHFA’s involvement in the federal formaldehyde regulation has not focused at all on emission limits – which have already been adopted and mirror the CARB standard. Instead, AHFA has focused on proposed improvements that would ensure the accuracy and reliability of the test methods within the enforcement framework and would strengthen accountability within the third-party certification system to ensure non-compliant products do not make their way into the supply chain for furniture manufacturers.

“The Times article missed its mark by about a decade,” Counts points out. “The potential health impacts of formaldehyde were debated 10 years ago. Where we are today is trying to figure out how to achieve accountability and reliability throughout a complex global supply chain.”

AHFA and its member companies have opposed only one aspect of the proposed EPA enforcement scheme – the testing of laminated wood products – based on the fact that such testing will provide no benefit to human health or the environment.

“Research conducted by world-class air quality laboratories demonstrates that finished home furnishings products have a reduced emission profile from that of a composite panel. In fact, laminating composite wood panels reduces the level of formaldehyde emissions in the finished furniture product by at least 80 percent – making additional testing at the finished product level unwarranted,” Counts explains.

CARB took this research into consideration in its decision to exempt laminated products from the testing and certification requirements of raw composite wood products.

The Times article states that the EPA has conducted research that concludes laminated products pose “a particular risk” to consumers. When wood products are laminated “in the final states of manufacturing,” the article states, “the resulting product can generate dangerous levels of fumes from often-used formaldehyde-based glues.”

All available research counters this statement, Counts insists. “UL (Underwriters Laboratories) conducted the research which was made available to and discussed with the Times. The positive impact of laminating on emissions also has been verified and published by agencies such as the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“In fact, the CPSC’s ‘Update on Formaldehyde’ specifically suggests purchasing furniture or cabinets that contain a high percentage of panel surface and edges that are laminated or coated as a strategy for avoiding exposure to formaldehyde,” Counts adds. “Studies clearly show that a finished piece of furniture has a significantly different emissions profile, and this difference should be considered in the regulatory framework.”

Counts notes that the EPA has the expertise, resources and ability to improve the science of formaldehyde emissions testing and to strengthen the enforcement framework. “These areas are the focus of our attention today,” he concludes.


The American Home Furnishings Alliance, based in High Point, N.C., represents more than 200 leading furniture manufacturers and distributors, plus over 150 suppliers to the furniture industry worldwide.

Patricia Bowling, 336-881-1006