Simplicity Sofas is a young company that was established in 2007 and makes ready to assemble sofas. The timing at the beginning of a stubborn recession could have put it in trouble, but the company has flourished and grown steadily year over year.
It isn't just business acumen that makes a company grow even in tough times. The product has to deliver value, and my own experience with it turned out to be very positive. Apparently, the company has never once received a negative customer review.
There are three things that you should know about Simplicity Sofas:
- All the furniture is made in the USA at the company's North Carolina plant
- The RTA or Ready To Assemble upholstered furniture can be easily assembled in less than fifteen minutes
- Simplicity Sofas only sells directly to consumers and not through dealers
Simplicity Sofas manufactures large and small sofas, apartment sofas, studio sofas, sleepers, and sectionals at its High Point, NC plant. The furniture is custom-built to customers' specifications and then shipped directly to them through UPS freight.
The most outstanding feature is that even its largest sofas can fit through small doorways and be carried through hallways and staircases easily. The largest sofa needs a width of only 15", while sectionals need 8". This is ideal for small spaces and apartments.
Once inside, the sofa can be assembled easily, with little effort and in very little time. On its homepage, the company has a video of an eight-year-old putting a sofa together in five minutes. What is even better, the furniture can be disassembled just as easily when moving, and then set up again without using any tools at all.
Small Spaces and The Reason for RTA Sofas
The co-inventors Jeff Frank and Glenn Laughlin are RTA upholstery experts with over 35 years of experience each. Between the two of them, they also hold five US patents and four international patents for RTA upholstered furniture design with additional patents pending.
Recently I had a chance to talk to Jeff Frank, the owner of Simplicity Sofas, who decided to send me a sofa so I could experience the whole process and see the product myself. You can read the interview below.
How did you get into the business of making sofas?
"I've been in the furniture business for 35 years. Are you familiar with Masco? Early in the 1990s, Masco came out with some ready to assemble furniture? I am also the co-inventor of that. That was Generation 1."
They don't look like RTA sofas...
"That's the whole idea. I was sales manager for a retail store and noticed that 5% of all sofas that we sent out came back from customers in the truck because the drivers couldn't get them through the door. That was something I thought about for years till I had an opportunity to do something about it. And RTA furniture is made for that kind of thing, but in RTA upholstery you basically had only IKEA. Making a good-looking, quality sofa that is RTA and easy to assemble is not a simple thing to do."
I see that you have sectionals and sleepers also. They are the hardest to get through 30" doorways.
"This is what we do. We make furniture for small rooms. Glenn is the real genius behind the Simplicity Sofas furniture. My contribution is coming up with impossible requests such as "all of the sofas have to be designed so that an average 60-year-old female customer can put it together by herself in 15 minutes without tools.
"Glenn's job is to figure out how to do that. The most recent example of this involves our sectionals. We had a husband and wife in Charlotte, NC who called up to say that our sofa would not fit down their basement stairs. That was the only time that has ever occurred in the history of the company.
"Glenn and I drove down to Charlotte and we could not get the sofa down the stairs either. The stairs were 24" wide with three very quick right-angle turns and a variable ceiling height that fell below 60" in some spots. The following Monday Glenn and I started working on a new sectional designed specifically to fit down those stairs. It took 9 months and required a completely different assembly system based on a completely different patent that is currently pending. The sectional is actually slightly easier to assemble than our sofas."
Ready to Assemble Sofas and Quality
Have you considered selling these sofas overseas?
"There is a demand for RTA furniture overseas, but it costs considerably more to make an RTA sofa than a conventional custom sofa of the same quality. The only way I can do it is by selling directly to consumers and cutting out the middle man. Exporters and overseas retailers are middle-men."
Whenever people think of RTA furniture they think of pressed wood...
"And they think of cheap. But we are putting more into it than is customary. We have solid oak frames because oak means something to people. We used to use polyurethane in our cushions but suddenly realized that everything else in our sofas is built to last a lifetime and here we were using something that would only last a few years. That didn't make sense. So now we put in Ultracell foam instead of polyurethane. It is considerably more expensive. Recently we increased the thickness from 6" to 8"."
What about fabric?
"We offer over 200 fabric choices, but keep it affordable for customers by buying good quality closeout fabric. I've been providing much better fabric than people expect for an RTA sofa.
Do you have just one base and different arms? How are the sofas designed?
"It is a modular system. We have six different arms and we have six different sizes, and any one of the six arms can go on any one of the six sizes. Everything is interchangeable."
How do you make your sleepers?
We don't actually make our own sleepers, it's a company that makes an airsleep system, an airbed that attaches to our 3-seat full-size sofas. It comes in a box and is easy to set up and can be just as easily put away after use.
Cost, Shipping, and Warranties
How long does a customer have to wait for a sofa?
"Typically it takes four to five weeks for a sofa to be ready. Delivery can take 2-4 business days for the East Coast. For the West Coast, it takes up to 5-7 business days. Some custom orders may take longer."
How much do your sofas cost?
"It starts at $799 and goes up to $1400. Most of the sofas we sell are upwards of $1000."
What if the customer complaints?
"If the customer doesn't like the product for any reason they can send it back to us. They can return it to us for a full refund including all shipping charges for a period of one year after purchase. We don't have an advertising budget. The company's grown mostly through word of mouth."