Chinese custom molder Castle Mark Enterprises Ltd. already makes chairs and office furniture parts for some of the leading names in the business.
Now the company is out to make a name for itself, teaming with U.S.-based designers to introduce a line of office chairs in North America and Europe.
``We have been making chairs for others for 15 years,'' said Vivian Chen, sales manager for Castle Mark, during a June 10 interview at NeoCon World's Trade Fair in Chicago. ``This year, we wanted to do our own chair for the U.S. market.''
Castle Mark, with offices in Taoyuan, Taiwan, and manufacturing in Dongguan, China, teamed with Zero1 Design of Ada, Mich., to create its Edge1 line of office chairs.
With its first branded product, the company wanted to maintain its ability to produce a low-cost chair, but at the same time make sure it met North American standards for fit and use. It also meets the growing environmental issues for North American buyers, Chen said. The Edge1, which has both glass-filled nylon and polypropylene for its structural components, is 90 percent recyclable.
The Edge1 is slated only for the export market, Chen said.
It is a big step forward for the company, she said, and one that President Tony Chi felt was important to give the company long-term potential beyond making chairs and furniture for other manufacturers. It is also the reason why the company has developed new contacts with designers, she said.
While other furniture makers from China have gained a reputation of merely copying chairs by established firms, Castle Mark wanted its own unique product.
``We need to move ahead,'' she said. ``That's why we partner with the designers from Zero1. We're not going to be satisfied just copying everyone else.''