From Home Furnishing Business
City Furniture Outlines 3-Year Expansion
As City Furniture prepares to launch an aggressive, multi-year expansion in the Orlando, Tampa Bay and Miami markets, the company is seeing its $4.5 million investment in creating and running its green delivery fleet pay big dividends
One of a few furniture firms nationwide to build its own compressed natural gas (CNG) station and convert most of its 100-truck fleet to run on the fuel, South Florida’s furniture retailer sees the strategy as essential to its statewide growth plans. The firm plans to have its entire fleet converted to CNG-powered vehicles by year-end 2016.
“We’re ready to expand our brand,” said Keith Koenig, City Furniture president, when he announced plans for two Orlando, Fla.-area stores. Construction on the stores will begin in 2016. Plans for either two or three showrooms in Miami-Dade County are on the books for 2017, and the retailer plans to open its first Tampa-area store in 2018.
Koenig estimates that in the next three years, the new stores will add about 175 jobs to the company’s current workforce of more than 1,300 associates.
“We’re seeing double-digit same store sales growth for 2015 and remain confident in Florida’s long-term economic future,” he said. “That confidence led us to make a well researched ’bet’ in the last few years that clean, U.S.-produced CNG would be the best approach to the millions of delivery miles we log annually. We’ve recouped the investment in less than two years through fuel savings. That helps us live our ongoing environmental commitment, while continuing to provide customers with exceptional value at a great price.”
City Furniture already travels about 5 million miles a year to deliver online orders and serve its current showrooms in Southeast and Southwest Florida and The Villages. The $1.5 million CNG service station is located at the company’s 909,000-square-foot corporate headquarters and distribution facility in Tamarac, Fla.
“We’ve converted the majority of our fleet to bi-fuel trucks that run on CNG or gas, and we covered about 3 million miles this year using CNG,” said Andrew Koenig, vice president of operations for the retailer. “With just half the emissions, those CNG miles ran far cleaner, and at 60 percent lower fuel cost, than gasoline.”
The bi-fuel trucks allow the company to take advantage of lower prices for the miles run on gasoline.
“As we expand in Central Florida and Tampa Bay, CNG use is a key infrastructure strategy,” he said. “CNG fleets are still unusual for Florida retailers, based on the up-front investment and need for easy access to fueling stations. Clean Cities Coalitions throughout Florida are helping to simplify the fleet conversion process, and with the number of CNG filling stations in Florida at 21 and growing, other retailers may want to consider a switch.”
The company’s eco-friendly fleet won honors in the national Green Fleet Awards this fall. Ranked 14th among the Top 50 Green Fleets, City Furniture was one of two private companies on the list of honorees that included the City of New York, the State of California and the U.S. Air Force Vehicle and Equipment Management Support Office.
City Furniture is achieving significant financial savings and environmental benefits, while sending a positive message to the public,” said Christine Heshmati, coordinator for Southeast Florida Clean Cities Coalition. “After intensive research to find the right alternative fuel for their specific needs, the company made a bold move that has already proved its value.”
Southeast Florida Clean Cities Coalition assisted City Furniture with the private and public sector networking to create its alternative fuel program, and is a starting point for companies considering a fleet conversion.