The headline, More growth, fewer employees, could have been written in 2019. But the makeup of the FDMC 300 (then called the FDM 300) was quite a bit different as we reported in early 1999.
Companies surveyed for the report were asked what their
greatest challenge was.
Far and away, the most common obstacle for any sized busi-
ness was “recruiting and retaining qualified employees.”
The largest company on the list was Steelcase, still a leader
in the market. But No. 2 was a company that is completely
off the list. LifeStyle Furnishings International, Ltd., was
formerly a manufacturer and is now exclusively an importer.
And No. 3 was Furniture Brands Intl., succeeded by Heritage
Home Brands, which closed last year.
In 1999, annual sales and productivity were reported to have
increased steadily, but employee numbers grew only slightly.
Total annual sales grew from $35.4 billion in 1997 to $38.8
billion to complete 1998, a good 9. 5 percent increase.
A total of 63 percent of companies reported sales increases.
Reflecting an industry wide
shortage in qualified labor 20
years ago, the number of employees increased only 0.3 percent,
despite the large growth in sales.
In comparison, sales for the
FDMC 300 group of companies
grew 4. 75 percent in 2018, to
reach $54.691 billion.
This group of the 300 largest North American cabinet,
millwork, furniture and fixture
manufacturers recorded a seventh
consecutive year of sales expansion in 2018, the year just completed. In 2017, sales grew 5. 4 percent over the previous year
to $52.209 billion.
Going back 20 years, MasterBrand acquired Schrock Cabi-
net, and Dorel Industries bought Ameriwood Industries. ✚
What was the greatest challenge for the
industry – in 1999?
by Karl D. Forth
Karl online at
Top FDMC 300 companies
reported in 1999
1. Steelcase Inc. … $3.3 billion (1998 sales)
2. LifeStyle Furnishings International, Ltd. … $1.9 billion
3. Furniture Brands International … $1.8 billion
4. Herman Miller, Inc. … $1.72 billion
5. Haworth Inc. … $1.5 billion
6. HON Industries … $1.45 billion
7. La-Z-Boy … $1.1 billion
8. Masco Corp. … $1.1 billion
9. Knoll Inc. $811 million
10. Global … $800 million
Prominent names from FDMC
300 in 1999 but not in 2019:
LifeStyle Furnishings International, Ltd. (Currently import
only); Furniture Brands International; LADD Furniture
Inc.; Leggett & Platt Inc. (Sold store fixture division);
Mill’s Pride, Ltd.; O’Sullivan Industries Inc.; Chromcraft
Revington; Futorian Furnishings Inc.; Northbridge Mfg.
Group; SMED International; Pulaski Furniture Corp.;
Omega Cabinets Ltd.; Shelby Williams Industries;
WinsLoew Furniture; This End Up Furniture; Shermag
Inc.; Krause’s Custom Craft Furniture; Canac Kitchens,
Div. of Kohler Ltd.; Douglas Furniture of California;
Jami Inc.; Bauhaus USA Inc.; Master Design Furniture;
GF Office Furniture Ltd. (Some of these companies
continue as a division of another company.)