The finishing touches are nearly complete on a newly constructed manufacturing facility in Montreal for Modern Event Furniture (MEF). The company still has its U.S. presence based in Miami, but its design and soon-to-be domestic manufacturing headquarters will be based in Montreal.
Charles Kay, MEF founder and president, is excited about the new facility. Kay says the advances in technology and automation now allow his company the opportunity to produce a core collection of products competitively domestically.
“The four-month build ended up taking 10 months with construction, labor and material shortages, but thankfully, we have finally arrived,” Kay says. “Most of the large pieces of equipment have been delivered from Europe for the setup of our factory, and we will be installing and setting everything up over the next several months.
“These are major pieces of equipment at the forefront of technology, some weighing over 30,000 lbs. that require special slab leveling, electrical and gas connections as well as overhead crane access.”
Kay says the company will have a new plant manager, production engineer and a team of experienced operators and machinists have been hired and are arriving over the next six months. The 20-year-old company offers a range of products, including bars, bar backs, lounge furniture, cocktail tables, dining tables and chairs, barstools, dance floors, decorative lighting and chandeliers.
With the Montreal manufacturing facility, the company’s employees will double from 20 to 40 at the present time.
“Before manufacturing domestically, our team was pretty tight, employing around 20 people full time,” Kay says. “As our production team members join, we will be nearing a team of 40, including a manufacturing engineer, CAD and CAM technicians as well as experienced CNC operators, welders, machinists, industrial coating and polishing specialists, and more.”
As a domestic manufacturer, Kay expects to cut lead times. He says the world has become reliant on China, and for many years, that worked very well. “We have a great team there and will continue to support them as the availability of raw materials and skill level of many workers there can’t be duplicated domestically in 2023,” Kay says. “That said, first with the introduction of tariffs in 2019 and then severe supply chain and global shipping challenges over the last few years, we have learned that we cannot be 100 percent dependent on China.
“We expect to ramp up to 50 percent production domestically within two years of serving our customers in North America, mirroring production that will continue in China for customers we serve on other continents.”
Kay says price has always and will continue to be a factor when manufacturing event equipment.
“As time goes on, we see that price, as in cost, is increasing in China, but in the event industry, price can also relate to time when the show must go on and the time it takes to get product from China doesn’t work,” Kay says. “As domestic manufacturers, we expect to cut our lead time from four to five months to four to five weeks.”