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Switching from hardwood to plywood frames seems like a small change. Stop using hardwood sticks; instead, produce frames from plywood panels. What could be easier? What Ethan Allen discovered during the three years it spent working on this conversion process is that a change of this magnitude reverberates through the entire upholstery manufacturing process.

“This was probably the most intense, difficult, time-consuming project we’ve ever taken on,” says Cliff Thorn, vice president manufacturing. “But it also has one of the largest rewards that we’ve ever experienced.” To pull off the far-reaching changes that propelled Ethan Allen to the forefront of upholstery production entailed a complete shift in management strategies and planning. If all it took was the selection of new equipment to put in place, it would have been a no-brainer. “It’s not for the faint-hearted,” Thorn says.

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