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From Belgium to Beaufurn

Beaufurn’s general mission is simple: to make customers look good. For Beaufurn, products not only have to look good, feel good, and be functional. They also have to be fun and exciting. Beaufurn helps create nuanced products by bringing beautiful elements of Western European aesthetics into collaborations with domestic designers. Products are made suitable for the American market but are also exciting because of the American and Western European fusion. Whether it’s for large brands like The Cheesecake Factory and Universal Studios or for local restaurants such as Twisted Pine and Young Cardinal Cafe, Beaufurn stays true to a beautiful design aesthetic.

In 1986, Bill Bongaerts and his family moved from Belgium to the United States. They had to learn a new language and adjust to a totally different culture while settling into their new life in Connecticut. The Bongaerts eventually made their permanent home in the heart of American furniture manufacturing: the Triad. It was here that Bill established Beaufurn. Beaufurn is a high-quality commercial furniture company, now located in Advance, NC.

Bill originally worked in the residential furniture business, and in 1996 he was moving everything to the Triad. When a warehouse fire in Lexington destroyed all of his stateside inventory, all that remained were his first two “commercial” projects, which were on a boat coming from Western Europe. Though it burned nearly everything to the ground, the fire can now be considered an origin story. In its aftermath Bill decided to enter the contract commercial furniture business. With a new focus and new trail to blaze, he founded Beaufurn in 1998.

Bill’s son, Thomas, grew up alongside Beaufurn. Over the years Thomas watched and helped Beaufurn grow. He worked in nearly every position imaginable at one point or another. From production sampling and frame assembly and packaging, to website management and sales– he’s done it all. In 2017, he purchased the company and became president of Beaufurn and in 2016 established Shelter Outdoor. In 2016, Thomas established Shelter Outdoor. The following year, Thomas continued this growth, purchasing and becoming president of Beaufurn

Thomas knows what it’s like to experience professional growth and personal growth side by side. He speaks to the importance of apprenticeships in Beaufurn’s skilled labor positions, saying “Someone can go from having no real direction in life to having a skilled trade that they can rely on for professional growth (personally and financially). You also get the ability to pursue things outside of work, and all that is totally transformative for a person.” Thomas’s father began his American Dream decades ago, and today Beaufurn is creating upward mobility in the community one apprenticeship at a time.

Another way Beaufurn fosters community growth is through the company’s collaboration with locals. When businesses purchase Beaufurn furniture, it grows the company, allowing Beaufurn to provide more opportunities for the workforce and invest more in charitable support. “Even when times are tough, we try to give back all that we can. It’s important to take care of the community,” Thomas says. In the end, local businesses grow Beaufurn, Beaufurn grows local businesses, and all of that grows the local community as a whole.

While he still speaks fluent Flemish and remains in touch with his Belgian roots, Thomas can confidently say that “I’m more North Carolinian than anything.” Throughout his life Thomas has traveled the world. Now, he’s happy to call the Triad home and is grateful he can give back to the community he loves. In the long term, he also hopes for Beaufurn to play a role in reinvigorating manufacturing in the United States, especially in North Carolina. He says, “To play a really serious and significant role in pushing the rebirth of domestic manufacturing here in NC, that’s my American Dream.”

Environmentally Responsible

While a commitment to dynamic design is foremost, a promise of environmental responsibility isn’t far behind. The company is committed to producing sustainable designs through its practices, processes and materials. Woods are FSC certified, foams are soy-based and finish options include water-based lacquers. Upholstery selections include biodegradable synthetic leather, recycled fabric or 100 percent natural and renewable cork.

The company’s first offices were in Clemmons, N.C., a community outside Winston-Salem, where it quickly outgrew the 14,000-square-foot space. By 2006, the company moved to Winston-Salem with offices and warehouse space equaling 46,000 square feet. Steady growth continued, even through the recession, and in 2013 Beaufurn relocated to the local community of Advance, where it thrives in a manufacturing, warehouse and office facility encompassing 85,000 square feet.

Success Story: Thomas Bongaerts

Thomas Bongaerts moved from Belgium to the United States when he was just a child. His family had to learn a new language and adjust to a totally different culture as they settled into their new life in Connecticut. Just before he entered high school, Thomas and his family moved to the Triad. Thomas’ father, Bill Bongaerts, then founded Beaufurn. Beaufurn is a high-quality commercial furniture company, now located in Advance, NC.

“It was important to be in the Triad because it is the heart of American furniture manufacturing,” Thomas said. Originally, Bill was in the residential furniture business. When a warehouse fire destroyed all of Bill’s stateside inventory all that remained were his first two “commercial” projects which were literally on a boat coming from Western Europe. It was then that Bill decided to go into the contract commercial furniture business. This was truly the genesis of what Beaufurn is today. Continue Reading

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