The U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville's Furnishings Program offered more than200 representatives from the furniture industry an opportunity to learn about the program's future projects, needs and requirements during a Centralized Furnishings Industry Day, Feb. 27, in Huntsville, Ala.

The Furnishings Program procures barracks and administrative furnishings for various federal agencies worldwide. Huntsville Center is also designated as the central manager for the Furnishings Program for the Installation Management Command. The Furnishings Program's primary mission is to buy initial issue furniture and furnishings in accordance with annual work plans and to manage the delivery of those items to the new or renovated facility by the beneficial occupancy date. The program also provides for replacement furnishings to meet the installations' requirements.

In FY13, the Furnishings Program furnished 209 administrative buildings and 262 barracks buildings, which included 26,601 barracks spaces, for a program cost of $132 million, with a total cost avoidance of $26 million, or 19 percent of the estimated value of the program.

According to Adam Sunstrom, Contracting Directorate's chief, Military Integration Support Branch, the Industry Day objective was to improve the understanding of government requirements and industry capabilities, as well as to provide insight into the program's future.

Sunstrom said the gathering of furniture industry representatives in one place and at one time was an extremely efficient way to provide information to the venders.

"This event enabled the vendor community to make more calculated and informed business decisions which is very important in today's fiscal climate, and will ultimately lead to the program satisfying the customer's requirements in an efficient and effective manner," Sunstrom said.
Sunstrom said a wide variety of information was shared with the vendors about the current state as well as future direction of the program.

"We discussed current processes and other program related information which will assist vendors in their marketing, business development and overall performance," he said.
Sunstrom said providing the vendors the information they need will assist them in providing the best products for the Army.

"We provided an understanding of the program's processes and future outlook, which enables the vendors to better prepare for upcoming requirements. They received a strong sense of what is important to the customer and should have the opportunity to better their technical submissions, products and installation services thus increasing their likelihood of being successful."
However, Sunstrom acknowledged that although the Industry Day assists vendors, it also assists the Furnishings Program by allowing interaction among the vendors and the Furnishings Program personnel.

"That's important, especially on a program that directly impacts the Soldier as much as the Furnishings Program does," Sunstrom said. "The sheer volume of procurements leaves minimal time to meet with industry to discuss upcoming changes and initiatives such as strategic sourcing. The Industry Day allows the program personnel to interact with industry while generating better solutions to meeting the customer's requirements."

Jake Feely, director of government sales for National Business Furniture from Atlanta, said he wasn't sure what to expect but saw the event as a benefit to providing information to a large group, yet still get one-on-one time with some of the more than 40 Furnishings Program representatives, including project managers, contracting officials and interior designers, on hand.

"My goal was getting the right information and taking it back to Atlanta," Feely said. "We've been doing business with Huntsville Center mainly providing office furniture. However, we're beginning to get into furnishing dormitories, so I'm gaining good insight into that area of the program."

To do business with the Huntsville Center Furnishings Program, vendors must comply with General Service Administration industry standard specifications and Huntsville Center performance specifications that incorporate the durability Soldiers require. Requests for quotes are directed to those vendors having complying lines of furniture, ensuring only comparable furniture in terms of quality of materials, special features and overall dimensions (critical for facility standard design application) are being considered for best value award.