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Office Furniture Company In New Jersey Changes With The Times, Becomes Its Own Supply Chain

NORTH BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- The pandemic changed things for many small businesses.

A company in Middlesex County had to rethink its business model and serve new clients.

Its focus changed from office furniture to work-from-home furniture, CBS2's Meg Baker reported.

In a warehouse off Route 1 in North Brunswick, there is a sea of office chairs.

"We spell it 'OFIS,' which stands for 'office furniture in stock,'" said Russell Castro, president of OFIS Furniture.

"In stock" is key phrase there because it's so hard to get anything in timely fashion because of supply chain issues.

"Our business has picked up a lot over the last few months, over the last year, because we are our own supply chain," Castro said.

Castro and his wife started liquidating expensive office furniture 30 years ago. Since the pandemic started, many more big corporations have consolidated office space, so he had a lot of supply and new demand.

"We were getting calls from all the employees that were working from home," Castro said.

People were okay giving up their commute, but not their high-end supportive office chair. Castro had to switch gears and start selling directly to individuals one chair at a time, as opposed to reselling hundreds at a time to companies.

He said a big benefit of coming to the warehouse was test-driving the chairs instead of ordering blindly online.

Michael Nelson of New York City ordered a chair from a different company that took weeks to arrive and was uncomfortable. He said his body ached for his old work chair.

"It's a jungle out there when you're trying to do this stuff online versus being able to go into a place and, honestly, there's not many places out there where you can walk into a showroom and, quite honestly, I didn't want to go out and spend $1,300 retail for a chair," Nelson said.

Nelson said he ended up getting an even more comfortable chair from OFIS for a couple of hundred dollars. Items at the warehouse are a fraction of the original price.

Andrea Castro says as soon as they made the switch to retail they had families walking in, suddenly in need of desks and chairs for virtual learning and work from home.

She showed Baker one chair by Herman Miller that she says has a full list price of $800-$900, but "We sell this for about $250-$300."

Standing desks are another hot item. The Castros said they adjusted to save their business and backs everywhere.

All items are refurbished on-site to be like new. OFIS calls itself a green company, recycling lightly used office items and saving them from ending up in a landfill.

CBS2's Meg Baker contributed to this report.

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