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Furniture company beds#8217; down in Suffolk Staff 12/08/2006 A new factory in Suffolk held its ribbon cutting yesterday, marking the creation of 30 new jobs and the beginning of a business relationsh

A new factory in Suffolk held its ribbon cutting yesterday, marking the creation of 30 new jobs and the beginning of a business relationship between Suffolk and Denmark.

Flexa Furniture Inc., based in Denmark, opened its new facility in the Suffolk Industrial Park with a ribbon cutting ceremony, factory tours and children’s play time. The company manufactures children’s bedroom sets, using the unique concept of modifying the same basic piece of furniture to fit a child’s changing needs and wants as they grow.

“It is rather important to note that Flexa ventured into the U.S. market barely six years ago,” said Torben A. Gettermann, ambassador of the Consul General of Denmark. Gettermann also praised the company’s business concept and its ability to “set high values and maintain them.”

David N. Smith, deputy secretary of commerce and trade of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, welcomed Flexa to Suffolk on behalf of Gov. Tim Kaine.

“Virginia was just named the number one state to do business,” Smith said. “Flexa liked it so much here they decided to put down roots, which really says a lot about the people of Suffolk.

“The people of Suffolk aren’t competing with Franklin anymore,” he said. “They’re competing with China and India.”

Flexa Furniture president Peder Sorensen said, “I’m delighted to be here on this day, the greatest day in any business. We’re one of the few factories that chose to locate in Suffolk instead of China. How many companies can celebrate the insourcing of jobs to the U.S.?

“We can see the smiles on children’s faces when they see their beds. We can see the satisfaction of the parents who buy the beds.”

Sorensen said they chose to locate in Suffolk because of the convenience of modes of transport.

“It’s really a logistic port, a good place to find,” he said. “We can have a container from here to the water in a half-hour.”

Sorensen said he had been working as a sales manager in New York when he heard about the opportunity in Suffolk. “I decided to jump on board and head down south.”

Sorensen said he had no problem hiring people to supply the factory with manpower.

“Relatively speaking, there’s a good supply of workers,” he said.

Flexa Furniture has a store in Virginia Beach, one of three Flexa-only stores in the United States. The others are in Hawaii and California. The furniture also retails in the area at Krazy Kids in Chesapeake, said Cecilia Najar, marketing consultant for Flexa.

The company produces bedroom products for children that grow with the child, said Najar. What starts out as a simple bed with side rails can be converted into a loft with a desk or fort underneath, a castle bed, or many other things. The focus is on safety and innovation, Najar said.

“It’s a very European concept. It has a Lego feel to it.”

Apparently, customers in the area have responded well to the unique furniture. The retail in the area is the best in the company, Najar said.

Flexa’s focus on environmental friendliness may be what brings in many customers. For every tree the company cuts down, they plant three, said Najar. Organic cotton and vegetable dye are used for the accessories, such as pockets for stuffed animals, schoolbooks or whatever the child desires. The lacquer used to coat the wood is non-toxic. Wood chips not used in the furniture are made into pellets and sold in Europe as a heating product for wood stoves.

“It’s as earthy, crunchy, tree-hugger as you can get,” said Najar.

Safety for the user is another prime concern. All corners on the furniture are rounded, and nearly all the products have rails around most of the bed, to keep the child from falling. The slides attached to some of the loft beds are flat at the bottom, so there’s no drop to the floor.

Per L. Jensen, president of Flexa Group, is optimistic for Flexa’s future with Suffolk.

“In Suffolk, we are sure we can develop our brand and be a strong employer,” he said. “It’s going to be great here, I’m very sure.”

To find out more about Suffolk’s newest factory, go to www.flexa.dk.

tracy.agnew@suffolknewsherald.com