cens logo

Taiwan's Wooden Furniture Sector Struggling, but Undaunted

Oct 03, 2016 | By

Persistent makers in Taiwan’s wooden furniture sector adopt different strategies to survive a severe recession caused by insiders continuously migrating.Persistent makers in Taiwan’s wooden furniture sector adopt different strategies to survive a severe recession caused by insiders continuously migrating.

Taiwan's wooden furniture manufacturers experienced a golden age back in the 1970s and ‘80s, but beginning in the late ‘70s they began suffering from such calamities as (for them) industrial transformation, oil crises, lumber export embargoes, inflation, and competition from emerging markets in the third world. In the 1990s most of the Taiwanese producers in the line joined the mass migration to mainland China and Southeast Asia. This, obviously, led to a drastic weakening in the demand for parts in Taiwan.

Yuan Meng's Green Materials
One of Taiwan's foremost wooden furniture parts makers is the Yuan Meng Wooden Product Co., which specializes in tabletops, chair backboards, and finished closet panels. In addition to its Taiwan operations, the company also employs 1,000 workers in plants in China's Guangdong Province and Tianjin City; there, they not only make furniture parts but also paint and package them under strict quality-control procedures.

The company's products are known for the “green” recycled materials which they employ, including wastes and scrap generated during the production process. “With insufficient sources of lumber in Taiwan,” says Chuo Ching-chao, the company's owner, “we have to look for substitute materials. Leftovers, scraps, and even sawdust can amazingly be turned into the best substitute materials; this can solve the lumber shortage problem and reduce production costs as well as our dependence on lumber and other natural resources.”

Yuan Meng has developed the production of this substitute material, which can be used in construction, and Chuo says that the company now commands an 80% share of Taiwan's market for it. “If processed by special methods,” the owner goes on, “this material will not crack or warp as easily as lumber.” This makes it ideal for the production of furniture parts, since it does not deform during shipping.

However, Chuo comments, “We're facing a growing labor shortage problem, especially in central Taiwan where wooden furniture plants are concentrated. Because of the lengthy depression in this industry, fewer and fewer people are interested in finding jobs in it. Unless the government takes some kind of action, this problem will never disappear.”

In contrast to the large number of Taiwanese wooden furniture parts makers who have relocated to China to take advantage of the cheap and abundant supply of labor there, Yuan Meng plans to stay in Taiwan and continue marketing its quality “green” products to the world.

Muh Yang Constantly Upgrades Molds and Equipment
Another forerunner in the line, the Muh Yang Enterprise Co., was established in southern Taiwan in 1979 and specializes in making construction materials as well as wooden furniture parts. To keep costs down, the company set up another plant in Vietnam years ago because of the supply of raw materials, such as rubber and oak wood, as well as inexpensive labor there.

Muh Yang has continued to develop new molds and upgrade its machinery so as to meet the needs of its customers, from markets such as India, Malaysia, and Thailand, in terms of quality and specifications. Furniture parts made of harder woods such as oak and maple are exported to the U.S. and Canada.

The firm is known for its production of high-end items such as embossed ornaments, embossed appliqué, embossed corbels, and hand-carved appliqué.

“When Taiwan's wooden furniture makers faced difficulties of transformation and competition in the mid-1980s,” recalls the company's chairman, Chiu Hung-jung, “Muh Yang resolved to differentiate itself from the others. So we learned manufacturing techniques and design concepts from Italy, and then zeroed in on such high-value-added and high-end products as embossed appliqués and corbels, which were popular in the European market. “These products require complicated, sophisticated work. They are processed and embossed with molds, and then further carved manually if necessary.”

Manual carving is necessary, more and more, to supply the customized products to meet the rapidly changing trends in the market.

But Taiwan is not a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and so is not eligible for the tariff preferences that the members afford each other. To counter such problems, Chiu says, Taiwanese suppliers should concentrate on high-value-added products. “Our counterparts in Japan have been doing this for a long time,” he notes, “turning out products such as varnished wooden bowls or other containers that are commonly seen in black and red colors. By offering such premium wooden products, they've created great value not only in terms of profit but also in culture and reputation.”

This is the direction that Muh Yang has taken with its sophisticated embossed and other furniture parts.

Sen Young Focuses on Sound Equipment
The Sen Young Wood Craft Corp., located in central Taiwan, has been making table legs, chair legs, cabinet legs, clothes trees, household accessories, and other wooden products for more than 30 years. Chiu Wen-tsung, who took over ownership of the firm from his father, has used his educational background and practical experience to carefully manage the upgrading of equipment, the sourcing of raw materials, and the handling of labor, costs, and sales.

“Some Taiwanese manufacturers tend to ignore the importance of sound equipment,” he comments. “And without proper production schedules and operating plans, they can't assure the good quality of their products and prompt delivery to their customers. This makes them less competitive than their rivals.”

The company constantly invests in equipment and advanced production technology, and Chiu takes particular pains to maintain a stable supply and sufficient inventory of materials. “A shortage of raw materials could bring us an operating crisis, so it's essential for us to have sufficient sources of materials,” Chiu comments. The supply of workers is vital as well, and “Even when we downsize during bad times, I don't neglect the expertise and experienced workers we need—because the quality of our products depends on the skill of our workers.”

Such measures have helped Sen Young remain successful and competitive. Over 90% of its products are exported to customers, Chiu says, who appreciate quality and timely delivery.

However, Chiu complains, “We Taiwanese wooden furniture parts makers are struggling under conditions that threaten to overwhelm us. We're a sunset industry which never seems to draw the concern of the government.” Nevertheless, he concludes, “We have the advantages of efficiency, effective management, and passion.”

Industry Reports

K, the leading global plastic and rubber trade fair (Photo courtesy of Messe Düsseldorf/ctillmann)

K, The World's Leading Trade Fair for Plastic and Rubber Industry

Jul 24, 2020

2019 K Show, the leading global trade fair for the plastics and rubber industry, had been held in Düsseldorf on 16-23 October, 2019. There were 3,330 exhibitors from 63 nations proved impressively: plastics continue to be an innovative, indispensable material. But they also unanimously underscored the necessity of having operational circular economies along the complete material chain and to this...

Photo courtesy of CENS

Digital Healthcare & Technology at the Heart of Las Vegas CES 2020

Jul 14, 2020

■ Hubert Chih The number of healthcare exhibitors at the 2020 CES in Las Vegas increased significantly by 23% from 2019. According to the analysis and report by the CES organizer, digital healthcare and technology were the focus in the healthcare exhibition. In addition to the continued expansion of healthcare coverage, the reduction of healthcare costs, the improvement of effectiveness and th...

The Taiwan Hardware Show sees global buyer attendance. (Photo provided by Kaigo Co.)

Taiwan's Hand Tools Seeking Opportunities Amid Global Crisis

Jul 10, 2020

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the globe, most of the international hardware shows slated for this year has been moved to 2021. However, as Taiwan’s efforts combating the new virus has proven to be successful, the 2020 Taiwan Hardware Show (THS) will continue as scheduled, beginning on Oct. 13 and ending on the 15th at the Taichung International Exhibition Center, thus becoming the only sh...

Industry In-Focus

SINOSTEEL Corporation: Rising price in Steel</h2>

SINOSTEEL Corporation: Rising price in Steel

Jun 05, 2020

Brazil’s new crown pneumonia epidemic has rapidly increased. Brazil’s Vale, the world’s largest iron ore producer, is facing an out-of-control impact. The market is worried that iron ore production and sales will be affected. new highs. Experts from Sinosteel (2002) evaluated that steel prices will rise steadily under the effect of rising costs, with a promising outlook. According to a legal p...

Apple Invests Millions in LED Plant in Taiwan</h2>

Apple Invests Millions in LED Plant in Taiwan

Jun 01, 2020

Apple is considering to invest over US$330 million in a factory in northern Taiwan to manufacture both LED and micro-LED displays for its iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, and other new devices. Apple is teaming up on the new factory with Epistar, Taiwan's top LED producer, and Taiwanese LCD panel maker, AU Optronics. The plant will be located in the Longtan branch of the Hsinchu Science Park and Appl...

Taiwan Machinery Was Applauded in COVID-19</h2>

Taiwan Machinery Was Applauded in COVID-19

May 18, 2020

What the epidemic showed was the amazing flexibility of Taiwan's machine tool industry. Taiwan, which has allowed the semiconductor industry to specialize in the past, has finally realized that these machine tool industries with amazing strength are the "invisible champions" of Taiwan's economy. In early February, three companies -- Habor Precision, Tongtai Machine & Tool and Taiwan Takisawa -...

Supplier News

With professional technics and rigorous quality control, Kung Hsing gains high-reputation in the industry</h2>

With professional technics and rigorous quality control, Kung Hsing gains high-reputation in the industry

Jul 23, 2020

Kung Hsing Plastic Machinery Co., LTD., founded in 1972, is the brainchild of the company President Tsai Chin-lien’s over 48 years of experience in designing and producing extrusion machines. The firm stood by its belief to uphold integrity and offer the best quality and services, eventually becoming a leader in the extrusion machinery industry in Taiwan. Kung Hsing currently has two factories; t...




Jul 21, 2020

■ Tseng Lung-nan Intype Enterprise has built up 55 years of experience in producing extruders, though the firm is placing greater consideration on rapidly degrading of the global environment. In the past 20 years, Intype has become an active contributor to building up a global ecosystem, enabling them to reuse the products manufactured by their own extruders and avoid further waste. The firm t...


YFCM Carbon Fiber Driveshaft Lauded in the field of Modified Cars for its Flexibility </h2>

YFCM Carbon Fiber Driveshaft Lauded in the field of Modified Cars for its Flexibility

Jul 14, 2020

■Hsiao Yung-le Yifeng Technology Co., Ltd. specializes in the research and development of carbon fiber transmission shafts and the manufacture of carbon fiber related products.The carbon fiber material has the characteristics of lightweight, impact resistance, fatigue resistance, and corrosion, and chemical stability is quite high. The product type is increasing in the extensive range with an ...


Insiders' Views

Caption: Pictured from front row, third right, Changhua County Government Economic Affairs Department Director Liu Yu-ping, County Magistrate Wang Huei-mei, Secretary Chen Bo-tsun pose in front of the exhibition booth. (Photo provided by CHCIA)

Changhua County Government Shores up Biz-Matching to Global Buyers

Nov 18, 2019

■Yang Feng-Chun In a bid to assist manufacturers in Changhua County to expand their market reach overseas against severe competition in the globalized market, Changhua County Government has been an active player in pushing for a makeover and innovation of its local small and medium-sized enterprises. This is done in hopes of establishing stronger connection with international markets. An ex...

Paul Master offers high-quality chassis and engines parts for passenger cars, trucks, and industrial trucks. (Photo courtesy of Paul Master)

Paul Master Builds Reputation with Auto Chassis and Engine Parts

Nov 18, 2019

Founded in 1980, Paul Master Auto Parts Co. is headquartered in Taiwan, a professional manufacturer of chassis and engines parts for passenger cars, trucks, and industrial trucks including forklifts. General Manager Terry Liang said the company has its own professional design department, which provides customized products and specifications for global buyers, including automobile steering and...


Nan Hoang Traffic Instrument Co., Ltd.</h2><p class='subtitle'>Taiwan First brakes Technology Co., Ltd. </p>

Nan Hoang Traffic Instrument Co., Ltd.

Taiwan First brakes Technology Co., Ltd.

Sep 04, 2019

Nan Hoang Traffic Instrument Co., Ltd is one of the major manufacturers of automobile friction materials in Taiwan and globally. Chairman Austin Cheng has implemented the double-arrow strategy this year - own brand of “YangPo” is adopted to focus on global channels while the “NHC brand focuses on improving market shares in global markets, such as Europe, America, Asia, Australia, and the Middle E...

Exhibition Highlights

Koelnmesse (Beijing) Co., Ltd.

Announcement on Postponement of China International Hardware Show 2020 (CIHS 2020)

Jul 10, 2020

In view of the continuous spreading of COVID-19 all over the world and the latest epidemic prevention requirements of China and the government of Shanghai, in order to guarantee the health and safety of exhibitors, purchasers and professional visitors, China National Hardware Association and Koelnmesse have prudently decided to postpone China International Hardware Show 2020 (CIHS 2020) from Augu...

Automechanika Shanghai 2020 creates channels for cross-sector collaboration</h2>

Automechanika Shanghai 2020 creates channels for cross-sector collaboration

Jun 16, 2020

This year, Automechanika Shanghai continues to serve the entire automotive value chain by offering opportunities for information exchange, marketing, trade and education. Both vertically and horizontally, from OE, vehicle production to the aftermarket, it incorporates all elements of manufacturing, supply networks, services, new business models and information technology. Companies across the...

Messe Frankfurt (Shanghai) Co Ltd

CAPAS defers to 2021

Apr 20, 2020

Following the Chinese Government’s initiatives to prevent and control the COVID-19 outbreak, the organisers of the Chengdu International Trade Fair for Automotive Parts and Aftermarket Services (CAPAS) have announced the defer of the show’s 2020 edition. The fair, originally scheduled from 21 to 23 May 2020, will now be held from 20 to 22 May 2021. In China, the State Council issued an announc...