For over 75 years Shafer Commercial Seating has produced a wide range of hospitality seating products. Our large selection of build to order chairs, barstools, booths, soft seating, and tables are designed to exceed the expectations of the hotels, restaurants, cruise lines, country clubs, sports venues and senior living communities who use them.
Sustainability has been an integral part of the design and manufacturing processes at Shafer Commercial Seating for decades and we take pride in being early adapters of sustainable materials and practices. We continue to explore methods and materials that will increase the sustainability and quality of our products, all of which we manufacture in state of the art facilities in Denver, Colorado, High Point, North Carolina, and Cerritos, California.
Wood finishing used to be a notoriously dirty and polluting process. We take pride in the fact that we continue to produce our products with ever decreasing VOC emissions. In 1996 Shafer Commercial Seating converted its finishing process from a solvent based system to a water based system. At the time there were very few furniture manufacturers who were applying water based finishes on a production scale. The technology and the chemistry were all new and unproven or didn’t yet exist.
Operating under a Title V permit from the EPA and Colorado Department of Health and environment, producing tens of thousands of chairs per year also meant emitting close to 100 tons per year of volatile organic compounds (VOC’s). Many manufacturers converted only part of the finishing process to water based finishes, the top coat only for example. This approach was tried and proven and allowed for modest reductions in overall emissions. We decided to help make complete water based systems a practical reality. We worked closely with our finish supplier who used our facility as a test bed for any new water based ideas they wanted to try. After working for nearly a year with chemists who visited our finish line on a regular basis, we arrived at a completely water based system that produced a high quality finish while producing far fewer emissions. A level of production that used to emit nearly 100 tons of VOC per year, now emitted less than twenty tons per year. The nature of the new emissions was also far less dangerous to people and the environment.
We chose not to use UV cure or catalyzed urethanes because our employees and the public at large would be exposed to the risks that the production, transportation, and use of harsh or toxic photo activators or catalysts pose.
As time has gone by water based finishes have continued to evolve. What used to emit under 20 tons of VOC now emits under 10 tons. We are now in the process of converting our stains and top coats to a new system with even lower emissions of less harmful compounds using zero VOC stain bases to color our wood products. We believe this new lower emission finish will be even better looking and more durable that our current system.
While important and exciting, reducing the impact of our finishing process is just one example of the continuing efforts Shafer Commercial Seating is making to improve the sustainability our products and processes.