The Most Innovative Small Business in America -- North Carolina Furniture Manufacturer Simplicity Sofas Wins $20,000 SMB Innovator Award Grand Prize

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The winner of the Phonebooth $20,000 Grand Prize for Small Business Innovation, is a Made in America furniture manufacturer, Simplicity Sofas of High Point, NC. http://www.simplicitysofas.com

Hi Jeff - You are…Amazing! Wish I had known about you as I was writing my last book. Simplicity Sofas would have been a perfect role model. The world can learn a lot by examples set by the best of the best.
Shep Hyken, NY Times best-selling author

How does a furniture manufacturer beat out a cutting-edge electric motorcycle manufacturer for the title of most innovative small business? The 2012 winner of the $20,000 SMB Innovator Award, sponsored by Cloud based business VoIP provider Phonebooth, a division of Bandwidth, is not a high-tech firm. It does not belong to a new and exciting industry. But it is an example of how one small American manufacturer was able to overcome economic recession, huge foreign competitors, and a dysfunctional domestic industry to create a dynamic company that thrills and amazes its customers.

Simplicity Sofas opened its High Point, NC factory in November 2007, three weeks before the official beginning of the recession. From January 2007 through the end of 2011 forty percent of American furniture manufacturing jobs disappeared as the industry became one of the hardest hit segments of the declining American economy. Between the economic downturn and cutthroat competition from large overseas competitors, the outlook for remaining American furniture manufacturers was bleak.

To start-up and grow a new furniture manufacturing firm in this climate required a radical re-invention of every aspect of the business including: product design, production systems, distribution systems, marketing and even customer service (traditionally a major weakness of furniture companies.)

Simplicity Sofas designs, builds, markets, sells and services a complete line of patented Furniture for Small Spaces and Impossibly Tight Places Furniture for Impossibly Tight Spaces

All of its sofas, sleepers and sectionals are designed to fit through any entrance wider than 15 inches. Assembly is so easy that a 170 lb. sofa can be assembled in less than five minutes by an eight year old. Eight year old assembles a sofa in less than five minutes.

To reduce costs and simultaneously increase consumer options Simplicity Sofas' furniture is produced using an “extreme” modular customization manufacturing process that allows the company to individually hand-craft any one of more than 1 million different custom variations in 30 days or less utilizing only 30 different frame components. This integrated production/design concept also significantly reduces the cost of repairs and replacements. Damaged components are quickly and inexpensively replaced in the field without bringing the entire item back to the factory for repair.

Simplicity Sofas sells its products through its own e-commerce website. At the beginning it faced the daunting task of convincing online consumers to buy expensive upholstered furniture, unlike anything they had never heard of before, that they could not see or touch, from a small unknown company.

To accomplish that goal Simplicity Sofas created a Word of Mouth marketing strategy that relied on a level of customer service so extreme that after 5 years and 3000 customers the company has never received a negative review. Customer service innovations include:

a. A warranty that states: “If you do not like our furniture for any reason whatsoever you may return it for a full refund, including all shipping charges, for a period of one year after purchase.”

b. The only furniture company that contacts each one of its customers within one day after delivery to ask how they like the furniture and whether there are any problems that need to be addressed.

c. The company does not sell its unique furniture through retailers. Instead it relies on a nationwide network of its previous customers who volunteer their homes to be used as transitory “showrooms” for prospective new customers.

Simplicity Sofas is a High Point, NC based manufacturer and e-commerce retailer specializing in Furniture for Small Spaces and Tight Place.

Co-inventors Glenn Laughlin and Jeff Frank each have more than 30 years experience in the furniture industry and share 5 patents (and 1 pending patent) in the fields of RTA (Ready-To- Assemble) and multi-functional upholstered furniture. There have been dozens of articles written about the company's "extreme" customer service philosophy which has enabled the company to grow despite adverse economic conditions.

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