As Founder and Chief Executive Officer of one of America’s oldest and most respected church seating providers, I’ve seen a lot of people, chairs, and companies come and go. There are some seating suppliers that you and your church should be wary of! Cheap church chairs can cause major issues for your congregation.
Watch Out for Low-Quality Manufacturing
Each year, I’m approached by chair manufacturers from all over seeking our business, including those from the United States, Columbia, Mexico, China, Vietnam and others…just to name a few.
The first thing I do is tell them that we have our own proprietary designs that have evolved from years of experience with churches and our work with ergonomic experts. I let them know the incredibly high specifications we have for all of our raw materials including steel, high density virgin foam, certified commercial long wear fabrics, etc.
In just about every case I’m told they are not “set up” to manufacturer chairs to ChurchPlaza standards. Rather, they are currently supplying church chair distributors in the United States who are demanding to purchase church chairs for resale at the lowest possible price. And at the price points demanded by these resellers, they can’t possibly build a chair to ChurchPlaza standards.
Nonetheless, I always ask for a sample of the “cheap chair” manufacturers want us to sell, and a list of the companies they are currently selling these products to. It helps us at ChurchPlaza better understand how our competition is approaching the market.
Recently, one manufacturer from China contacted me to let me know he would be in Atlanta working with some “Warehouse Stock Church Chair Resellers” located in Georgia.
When I was unwilling to meet with him, he sent me a sample of the church chair he is currently supplying to the “Warehouse Reseller.” He actually called it “the cheap church chair.” Let me tell you about it!
Issues with Cheap Church Chairs
At first glance the chair appeared to look like one a quality manufacturer would provide. But closer inspection quickly changed all of that.
The foundation was the weaker 18 gauge steel as compared with the much stronger 16 gauge found on quality church seating.
Rust was bleeding through the drain holes usually punched into the cross bars and when the cheap floor plugs were removed, the interior of the frame barrel was filled with surface rust that would eventually spread to the outside of the chair. (Caution, this rust is not readily visible unless the inside is inspected but be assured, it WILL be a problem down the road).
The seat and back foundations were remanufactured wood, which is generally advertised as “wood” foundations. These are both cheaper for the manufacturer to buy, weaker and with less holding power than high quality industrial plywood foundations.
The seat was an undersized 18” in width (although a larger seat was available but still with all the other problems).
Cheap Foam and Fastening Systems
I also looked to gauge the church seating cushions. While the foam was “virgin foam,” it was the cheapest available with questionable durability. The same was true with the fastening system; although they were T-Nuts, the quality of the steel, and by inference, their strength was questionable.
A huge weakness was the fabric. There were no certifications from a trustworthy fabric manufacturer to back up the outlandish claim by the manufacturer as to wear. Workmanship, color fastness, durability, etc. were all questionable.
When asked if the factory would provide a warranty on the chairs the answer was an emphatic “NO!” The manufacturer wanted his money upfront for each container shipped and after that any warranty was the responsibility of the Warehouse Reseller.
I could go on, but the dangers to a church basing their buying decision on price alone were clear…BEWARE!
We’ve taken the time to develop videos on how to best evaluate church chairs. Please take the time to educate yourself and your committee on how to best evaluate and select chairs for your church. After all, the right purchase will give your church years of problem free comfort, while the wrong decision will end up costing your church time, significant money, and aggravation.
Since 1986, ChurchPlaza has been providing America’s churches with the highest quality church seating at exceptional values and providing service and warranties that you can trust.
Please, before you make a purchase, speak with one of our representatives. Even if you don’t buy from us, educate yourself and your church as to what you need to know to make an informed purchasing decision.
Blessings and Semper Fi,
Dr. Thomas McElheny
Founder and CEO