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APEC Business Spotlight: Formaspace sells Custom Furniture to the Asia-Pacific Region

The work of the  Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum is important to promote trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region, and to improve economic cooperation in the region as well. Some APEC efforts include addressing non-tariff trade barriers to create a better business environment for companies like Formaspace to compete on a level playing field and reach more customers.

Formaspace is a small company based in Austin, Texas that designs and manufactures custom technical furniture, accessories, and services for professional workplaces. The company opened in 1981 as a cabinet shop and has grown into an international manufacturer, employing more than 40 local workers.

Today, Formaspace exports nearly 20 percent of their products abroad. Chief Executive Officer Jeff Turk has found that “’Made in the U.S.A.” is the world’s premier brand,” because many of Formaspace’s international customers are willing to pay a premium for its high-quality products.

“Our products are 100% made in the USA. All our raw materials are supplied within the U.S. Our steel is made here. Our wood and pulp products are made here. Our plastics are made here. We are exporting our products, so whether the company making our steel knows it or not, everyone benefits from trade,” said Mr. Turk.

However, trade barriers currently limit Formaspace’s opportunity to be more competitive abroad and expand its presence into additional international markets, including those in the highly lucrative and dynamic economies of the Asia-Pacific region, and the future success of Formaspace can really benefit from the opportunities in this region.

“Formaspace has had several sales opportunities with large multinational companies where our furniture was acknowledged to be superior in design and construction, but due to tariffs and other barriers to trade in the country, our client had to select a local provider. These barriers represent a tax on global efficiency – somewhere in the world a guy is sitting at a less than ideal workbench because we couldn’t access his market efficiently,” said Mr. Turk

The work APEC is doing can help businesses like Formaspace allows companies to sell more competitively in Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, and South Korea, and to be more prepared to expand. Mr. Turk also states that Formaspace’s decisions to invest in several markets in the Asia-Pacific region depends on factors like non-tariff barriers that affect the company’s ability to compete on a level playing field with local as well as other foreign competitors.

Mr. Turk has big plans for Formaspace’s future. The company is on its way to generating almost $11 million in sales revenue with hopes to double revenue in three years. Greater economic cooperation and dialogue between the APEC member economies would lead to better business opportunities for U.S. companies to be more competitive in the region and more profitable overall. These opportunities would lead Formaspace into a more viable position in the future to invest in the expansion of operations in Austin and support more U.S. jobs.