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Support Research Grant Project for Wooden Furniture in Schools and Government Facilities-October 2012 to February 2013

Promoting Local and Regional Markets for Value-Added Wood Products Manufacturers

A research study in three states (West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina), researching the purchasing practices by the purchasing departments of school districts and local governments. In the US there is a large public furniture market that uses wood, metal and plastic in schools and public buildings for furnishings. Since the 1960’s there has been a replacement of wood furnishings by metal and plastic furniture in classrooms and a reduction of wooden furniture and millwork in public buildings. This reduction of wood markets for furnishings and construction materials has reduced sales and profitability of wood shops capable of providing products for public furniture markets. Given the decline in housing markets since 2006, local wood shops should consider researching public furniture markets in order to maintain sales, profitability and employment of their workforce.

This project has two sponsors, the USDA US Forest Service Forestry Sciences Laboratory in Princeton, West Virginia and the Wood Products Extension Department at North Carolina State University. The Forestry Services Lab researches hardwood markets and undertook this project to better understand the potential to grow markets for local wood shops using local and regional wood species. The USFS Forestry Service Lab provided the funding for this project.

Top News-Project Completed

The Public Furniture Research is now completed and here is the link for the project report Public Furniture Research Project Link

Quick Links

Update #1-October 31st, 2012


Blank Survey School District Furniture Buyers
Summary of School District Furniture Buyers

The Economic Impact of Buying From Local Wood Products Shops and Factories


Update #2-November 30th, 2012

Blank Survey Government Furniture Buyers

Summary of Government Furniture Buyers

Fifty 3-D Designs and Parts Lists of Furniture for Schools and Local Governments

Update #3-December 31st, 2012

Where in the Market Does Local Shops Fit in for Supplying Furniture and Related Wood Products to School Districts and Governments

The Importance of Using Local Wood Species for School District and Government Furniture Orders

Update #4-January 31st, 2013

Finding Local Wood Species to Make Wood Products for Schools and Local Government Needs

How to Network Local School District and Governments for Orders

Update #5-February 28th, 2013

State Purchasing and Contracts Departments-West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina

Value of Localization Over Globalization

Why Writing the Specifications Usually Determines Who Gets School and Local Government Bids

Understanding Purchasing Departments

Value of Using Renewable Resources Over Depletion Resources

A Tour of Vintage School
Photos Showing Wood in Schools

US Lumber is Great for Public Furniture

US Plywood is Great for Public Furniture

Project Report Webinar-Tuesday, February 26th, 2013-Noon Eastern Time-1 Hour in Length

Project Written Report


Public Furniture Project

This project researched how to grow the market for domestically manufactured wooden furniture for schools and local government facilities.  The recent US recession and the bursting of the housing bubble has lowered significantly the demand of cabinets, furniture and millwork wood products. This project researched the potential of gowning sales of wooden furniture to government purchasing departments so wood products manufacturers can grow their sales and profitability.

The project focused on how to support growth of local and regional markets for wood products manufacturers by the following research procedures:

  • Survey approximately thirty school and local government purchasing departments in three states to identify their purchasing procedures and what furniture products they are buying.
  • Review their purchases that are made of plastic, metal and imported wood products and develop 3-D designs of approximately fifty products that could be manufactured in traditional wood shops using US domestic lumber and plywood.
  • Evaluate the factors that influence the buying of school and government furniture and learn of domestic and locally manufactured products would be interest to buyers of public furniture products
  • Offer educational workshops and webinars to present the findings of this grant project to the US value-added wood products industry and the purchasing departments of local schools and governments.
  • The primary goal of this project is to provide a stronger foundation for local and regional wood products manufacturers to offer wooden furnishings for schools and local government buildings that will help them grow sales, profitability and employment.

This project proceeded in several steps:

  1. Research what how local governments are buying furniture and what affects their buying decisions.
  2. What specifications are presented in the Request to Bid documents.
  3. Review current purchases of non-wooden furniture and develop domestic furniture products that can compete in price and function. Design fifty furniture products using 3-D CAD and include a Bill of Materials (parts list) for each item.
  4. Consult a group of wood products manufacturers to review the designs for ease and affordability of manufacturing. 
  5. Perform outreach efforts through multiple channels to report the findings of this project that promotes the domestic manufacturing of wood products for schools and government facilities using domestic lumber and plywood products.  The outreach effort will include contacting the purchasing departments of a group of local schools and governments for their opinions of the furniture designed by this effort.  A final informational Webinar will be offered to discuss the details of this project's research findings.  The project web site will be frequently updated with the research efforts.

The Wood Products Extension Department at North Carolina State University supports the wood industry of North Carolina and undertakes research projects that promote the US wood products industry. The Wood Products Extension Department is active in assisting individual wood products businesses to improve their businesses and also promotes the use of US wood species. NCSU WPE performed the field work of this project.

This project supports the economic growth of US communities by supporting local wood shops to become better competitors in public furniture markets. Wood shops contribute strongly to the local community by being buyers of locally produced lumber and plywood products, its employment of local citizens and the payment of property, generation of sales and income taxes to state and local governments.

The world is currently experiencing increased costs and environmental problems using depletion resources like metals and plastics, thus needing to convert to renewables for furnishings, like wood, in order to sustain the current level of the economy and insure future social and political stability. Continued use of metals and plastics in public furniture will result in quickening the time when depletion resources shortages result in hardships and higher costs.


North Carolina State University Non-Discrimination Policy Statement-It is the policy of the State of North Carolina to provide equality of opportunity in education and employment for all students and employees. Educational and employment decisions should be based on factors that are germane to academic abilities or job performance. Accordingly, the North Carolina State University (“NC State”) does not practice or condone unlawful discrimination in any form, as defined by this policy.

USDA/USFS Non-Discrimination Policy Statement -The work upon which this web site is based was funded in whole or in part through a grant awarded by the Wood Education and Resource Center, Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry, U.S. Forest Service.