BY THOMAS RUSSELL
HIGH POINT — For more than 30 years, Herzog Veneers has helped furniture companies gain access to some of the most beautiful veneers from around the world.
The company currently supplies about 70 species grown and harvested largely in Europe and North America. When adding various dyed, figured and re-composed varieties, the number of veneers more than doubles to about 150.
Founded in 1982, the company has undergone a number of changes over the years including the shift to an online business model that provides customers real-time information about wood species that are in inventory.
Its website, www.veneeronline.com, has about 14,000 images including full-length shots and close-ups of available product ranging from Afrormosia (African teak) to zebrawood.
The shift to online occurred largely as part of an effort to better serve its customers, which in addition to furniture manufacturers also includes architects, panel makers, designers and boat and aircraft manufacturers.
In the 1980s and through much of the ’90s, furniture represented as much as 80% of its business. Then as U.S. furniture plants began to close and production began to move overseas in the late ’90s, this dwindled to as low as 10% of volume, said Sam Parisette-Herzog, vice president.
“I can’t tell you it wasn’t painful,” he said. “It almost vanished.”
Around the same time, Sabrina Parisette-Herzog, president and owner, realized the company could thrive by offering its remaining customers real time information and images of in-stock product.
The company did have an electronic database of its inventory. That way a customer like Henredon could call and pick up an order of veneers that same day.
Showing customers photos online not only told them what was in stock, but also allowed them to see exactly what they were purchasing without having to come to High Point.
Since its launch in 2000, the website has undergone at least two upgrades and soon will be ready for the latest, which will allow customers to use credit cards to purchase product from a shopping cart. The couple expects this to better serve customers in the U.S. and abroad, including Europe, Asia and South America.
Today, due to improvements in the economy and expansion of the customer base domestically and globally, furniture is once again approaching 50% of the company’s business.
“In terms of quantities, we started out doing a lot of furniture,” Sabrina said. “A lot went overseas, and now we see it coming back.”