February 3 marked the 30th anniversary of mobican. An article written by Mr. Charles Poulin, was published in the weekly Le Canada Français, to mark the event. Here it is:
Established 30 years ago, Mobican Furniture continues to have the wind in its sails. The Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu company, which specializes in the design, manufacture and veneering of residential wood furniture, has seen its sales increase by 30% over the past two years. A trend that will continue, believe the leaders while stating that they have invested more than $ 1 million in equipment for 12 months.
It was 30 years ago, on February 3rd, that the Selmay family took over the SME located on Aubry Street, just opposite the Atelier Industriel. The most experienced readers will remember that the company was called at the time Furniture Colibris. Acquiring it, Patrick Selmay, who had started in the company as the sweeper, decided to rename it Mobican Furniture.
Mobican furniture is also a family affair. In recent years, his sons Mathieu and Nicolas have joined him and have begun the transfer process. Moreover Patrick Selmay’s father, Bruno, regularly comes to work at the age of 82.
The company has developed its business strategy on manufacturing and selling products based on quality and design, notes Patrick Selmay. Mobican Furniture sells its living room, dining room and bedroom furniture throughout North America, but has decided to target independent retailers such as Corbeil, JC Perreault, Mobilia or, here in Saint-Jean, Bouvreuil, which offer products of superior quality. The biggest customers have a dozen stores, says Selmay.
“Our strength is that we are three engineers who worked in the plant and know the limitations of our equipment,” he says. We master the technique, but also the design and veneer, which allows us to combine all this together. “
The Quebec furniture industry is doing well, says Patrick Selmay. There are two or three big players that employ more than 500 people, a dozen between 50 and 500, and several others under 50, like Mobican Furniture, which employs 45 people in its 40,000-square-foot factory. In total, the sector represents 30,000 jobs in the province, making it one of the main fields of activity in Quebec.
The company has managed to find a niche, thanks to the veneer it assembles inside its walls, which allows it to deliver “tailor-made” pieces to its customers.
“Chinese manufacturers are focusing on high-volume production,” explains Patrick Selmay. We could not compete with them. So we have taken the road of custom products that are available at relatively short notice. What comes from China comes in by container ships. Delivery times are long. “
Mathieu and Nicolas Selmay travel the world looking for the best wood available on the market to obtain a symmetrical and aesthetic veneer.
“Our sales have exploded in the last two years, reveals Mathieu Selmay. We are talking about 30% increase in sales. The expansion is largely due to the new models we have recently developed. “
If he admits that several elements are out of his control, especially south of the border, Mathieu Selmay estimates that sales should increase by 10% to 15% per year over the next five years. One of the main challenges for the company will be to reduce delivery times in this era of Amazon and e-Bay where we get almost everything on the spot.
Among the things that Mobican Furniture does not control is the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The agreement is currently being renegotiated. The furniture companies of the country are following developments closely.
“After the implementation of NAFTA, sales in the United States have doubled for local manufacturers, said Patrick Selmay. There is still a lot of potential there. But there is talk of reinstating a customs tax of 9.8%. Our products would become much more expensive, and it would have a direct competitive impact even if made in Quebec sounds good to Americans. The United States is an important part of our sales. It would be far from good to fall back into a world of protectionism. “