Newspapers were also interested in our views on merger trends!

Triad (Greensboro, NC) Business, November 10-17, 1986.

Another furniture executive who expects mergers to continue in his industry is Will C. Somers, chairman of the Somers Corporation, a Celina, Ohio-based company.

Will C. Somers, chairman of Somers Corporation, a Celina, Ohio-based company that owns Mersman Tables and Waldron Upholstery, Inc., thinks that the takeover trend will continue in the furniture industry. "There are some tremendous opportunities right now, because of a declining number of stores." Somers said that reduction means manufacturers must fight harder to get their products onto the showroom floors. One way this is being accomplished is through gallery programs which Somers and others are using. With a gallery, a manufacturer basically reserves a portion of a retailer's floor for the display of his product line. These programs take money and marketing skill, and many small furniture manufacturers lack both.

Somers, who bought Waldron Upholstery five years ago to complement his table business and created Mersman/Waldron, a privately. held corporation with $40 million a year in sales, said he is looking for more acquisitions. "We'll be expanding, either internally or externally, in the next year or so, I hope," Somers said.

Beyond keeping tabs on the players, it's becoming equally difficult just keeping track of all the reasons experts offer in explaining why the furniture industry has once again become attractive to investors. Some say it's because of changes in the federal tax law, specifically as it relates to capital gains. Sherwood Robertson, vice president of marketing for National/Mt. Airy in Bassett, Va., and president of the American Furniture Manufacturers Association's sales and marketing division, said many people are buying now "to outrun capital gains." The new tax law will eliminate preferential treatment for long-term capital gains as of Jan. 1, 1987. "That half of the equation has to do purely with numbers," Robertson said. "The other half has to do with survival."

"I think the long-range survival of the furniture industry is hinged on size," he continued. "If the industry is going to take on and compete in the world economy, it's going to have to do so on its own. It's sure not going to get any help from the government; the textile industry didn't get it, the shoe industry didn't get it and the furniture industry sure ain't going to get it. Size is what does it. I think we're going to see more joint ventures."

The first move toward joint ventures was seen just a couple of months ago when Universal Furniture, a Singapore company with offices in High Point, announced it had acquired controlling interest in Bench Craft, a Mississippi manufacturer of upholstered furniture. This represents the first time a Far East manufacturer has joined with an American company to produce a product in the United States. Universal, the nation's leading supplier of dining room furniture, will make its upholstery at Bench Craft's Blue Mountain, Miss., plant.

Others say the acquisition fever is due to the tightening retail market.

Another furniture executive who expects mergers to continue in his industry is Will C. Somers, chairman of the Somers Corporation, a Celina, Ohio-based company.

It did happen! Sometimes, mergers led to trouble.