“We have an obligation to help vendors raise their safety and environmental standards, in partnership with government and business leaders. No matter where they live and work, we care about the safety of those who manufacture our products—and we expect our products to deliver the quality, craftsmanship, and longevity for which Ethan Allen is so well known.”
—Farooq Kathwari, Chairman, President and CEO, Ethan Allen Interiors Inc.
We manufacture approximately 75 percent of our products in our North American workshops. Yet to keep supply chain costs manageable, we’ve formed additional partnerships all over the globe. To give our clients the quality they always expect from Ethan Allen—and as a statement of our values—we’re working to standardize processes in product development, manufacturing, and distribution.
We also meet or exceed a range of product safety regulatory standards. From the way we source wood to the way we craft custom upholstery, our efforts coalesce around three core concepts: delivering quality without compromise, forming transparent partnerships, and ensuring accountability throughout the supply chain.
Quality Without Compromise
In partnership with EH&S, the Ethan Allen Product Compliance team is doing an extensive overhaul of both our product standards manual and our product testing and labeling protocols. This means creating uniform preproduction processes, improving inspections, enhancing product testing, performing additional third-party evaluations, and ensuring responsible labeling.
- Preproduction: As we build partnerships with new facilities all over the world, we’re asking for more consistent design drawings and specifications for every Ethan Allen product. We want each factory to understand our design expectations to an extraordinary level of detail. This precision means that every worker manufacturing an Ethan Allen chair, at any Ethan Allen or partner manufacturing facility, knows where every last screw and nail should go and which types of screws and nails we expect them to use.
- Inspection: During both in-line and postproduction inspections, as well as when component parts arrive at each factory, we’re establishing more uniform procedures to ensure consistent production quality. We’re also working with manufacturers to help them build internal quality control teams, to train their workers to a high level, to investigate potential issues before they become problems, and to know when to escalate quality control issues to facility managers and Ethan Allen partners.
- Product testing: We’re rolling out informative, easy-to-use manuals for every product we create, including detailed lists of testing protocols and acceptable results. From children’s products to lighting, we ensure that any product bearing our name meets or exceeds safety standards.
- Responsible labeling: From product labeling to labels on shipping cartons, we’re improving accuracy and communication throughout the supply chain and with regulators. We’re keeping our Sustainable by Design goal in mind: to let our clients know the safety, health, and environmental impact of every Ethan Allen product.
Spotlight on Maiden, NC
Improved processes and a team commitment lead to big safety improvements.
The North Carolina Department of Labor recently recognized Ethan Allen’s Maiden manufacturing plant for achieving one million man hours without a single lost time incident. The local safety director, Matt Jenkins, credits improved safety training, better case management, and solid managerial support for the change.
Maiden organized a ten-member safety team—none of whom are managers—to perform safety audits and conduct training on all manufacturing procedures. Lavonda Shires, RN, Maiden’s occupational health and case management nurse, says that incidents are declining because front-line managers take more responsibility for their areas. Her case management philosophy is simple: Report on every incident, even minor ones. “The more minor incidents you report,” she says, “the fewer major incidents you have.”
Jenkins credits plant manager Randy Rose for supporting corporate safety initiatives; Rose is a big EH&S supporter, which drives program success from the top down to the shop floor, where injuries can happen. “I believe this support from the top down is as critical as good programs and training,” Jenkins says. “The line people will always support EH&S if they believe management does.”
Ethan Allen’s manufacturing facilities are built close to sources of raw materials, and they’re based in communities with talent pools of skilled craftspeople. In addition to our U.S. facilities, we have an upholstery manufacturing plant in Mexico and a case goods manufacturing plant in Honduras.
We also selectively outsource outside America, mostly in Asia, and mostly with suppliers that have worked with Ethan Allen for many years. Sustainability requires a consistent supply chain, and we’ve worked hard to minimize disruptions by developing strong relationships with our stakeholders.
Setting clear product creation, manufacturing, testing, and shipping standards is one way we communicate expectations to every vendor. We also set high standards regarding the way we expect our partners to operate. For example, when our suppliers partner with their own contractors to deliver work for Ethan Allen, we endeavor to ensure they receive training regarding our safety program requirements and follow our contractor safety guidelines.
Additionally, we’re building partnerships with local third-party testing facilities to make it easier for our partners to meet product quality standards. In addition to performing required testing procedures and generating accurate results, our partners are expected to educate manufacturers about all testing procedures. All manufacturers are expected to use Ethan Allen-approved testing facilities.
Accountability Throughout the Supply Chain
It’s not enough to state our expectations; we also have to ensure they are met. Most of the risk assessment activities for our outsourced products are based on our long history with suppliers. They understand our expectations and maintain close communications with our purchasers and merchandisers. Ethan Allen works hard to ensure suppliers continuously meet standards related to the
- social mores and standards of the country of operation;
- control of processes according to industry best practices;
- disclosure of subcontractors; and
- workforce size and labor type.
As representatives of Ethan Allen, our merchandisers and purchasers are expected to report risks both to supervisors and to product supply chain team members. After supervisors confirm that a high-risk scenario exists, they communicate that risk to our VP of operations. Then, a specific action plan, with remediation steps and a realistic timeframe for improvement, is implemented. If suppliers fail to address noncompliance, and they continue to take actions that don’t reflect our social conscience, we reserve the right to terminate that relationship and find a more appropriate partner.
Spotlight on Honduras
From daily medical care to award-winning health fairs, the Ethan Allen medical clinic is changing lives.
Imagine having a clinic at your workplace that treats everything from injuries to chronic disease. At Ethan Allen’s Honduras manufacturing plant, on-site medical services are part of the benefits package.
Plant manager Carolina Pascua says the clinic’s biggest benefit is providing immediate medical attention to all associates when needed. “In most cases, they receive immediate attention on-site, without having to move to another facility.”
Eighty percent of the plant’s 475 employees have received care from their medical clinic. In addition to seeing a doctor and a nurse trained in occupational health, associates can take advantage of educational lectures, lab tests, and seasonal health initiatives, like flu vaccine clinics.
For three consecutive years, the clinic’s health fairs have been recognized as “Best Health Fair” by the Medical Enterprise System of the Honduran Institute of Social Security. Each health fair offers a free breakfast as well as specialist consultations with pediatricians, nutritionists, orthopedists, gynecologists, and more. There were a total of 816 consultative visits during the 2016 health fair, including care from 23 dentists who performed over 90 procedures. Associates and their families also received needed health services, from eye exams to vaccines, all free of charge.