As the war in Europe was drawing to a close, the young Jack Morgan, trained in the skills of joinery and upholstery looked to establish a business in Auckland. A small shop was found at 315 Victoria Street West and early in June 1944 the firm of JD Morgan opened its doors.
"Jack" Morgan was a cheerful energetic individual who took an optimistic view of the future of his business. By 1950 the company had expanded to include Jack's brother George and had outgrown its original premises. A 2000 sq/f disused stable was purchased in Northcote which was then a semi rural suburb of Auckland. (Originally the building was used to stable horses for pulling trams to the North Shore ferries). In 1951 it was converted to a furniture factory.
Within four years the converted stables were becoming too small! The number of staff had grown to over 20 and it became obvious that the machinery needed to keep production in step with demand could not be accommodated on the Northcote site.
A search for potential new, larger premises was undertaken and after discussion with locals, one and a half acres of land was purchased in Archers Road, Takapuna in May 1953, with building work commencing almost immediately. For the first 13 years it was steady expansion but not everything went to plan....on November 20 1966, the Archers Road property burnt to the ground in a spectacular blaze.
The staff of over 100 workers were quickly re-located in six different leased properties dotted about Auckland's North Shore. Production was quickly re-organised and within a fortnight of the fire, Morgan lounge suites were again being despatched to retailers across the country. In 1967 a new 45,000 sq/f factory was constructed on a new site 200 metres down the road, and was steadily expanded to 110,000 sq/f over the next 12 years.
1968 was a momentous year for the Company and saw the beginning of a period during which the company's achievements of the last 24 years were built on and developed in an unprecedented manner. Jack Morgan had always believed he and his people should be aware of overseas trends, and overseas contacts provided many useful openings, but one of the most fruitful happened on Morgan's "back doorstep..."
At the Auckland Easter show a meeting took place between the then La-Z-Boy Australian licensee, Jason Industries of Perth and Jack Morgan. From this meeting grew the joint venture company, La-Z-Boy International which began making La-Z-Boy Chairs later that year until, in 1979 when Morgan Brothers took control of 100% of La-Z-Boy International. The rest, as they say is history. Morgan Furniture has now supplied more La-Z-Boy chairs to New Zealanders than there are homes in New Zealand.
During this period many accolades came the company's way not at least was the 1978 Export Award given by the New Zealand Trade Promotion Council.
In 1983 due to the continued expansion of the business and in order to meet the challenges of this expansion the Company was restructured and renamed Morgan Furniture Limited.Since the deregulation of the New Zealand economy that commenced in 1984 and which opened the economy to imports for the first time, the Company's major thrust was to become internationally competitive. To achieve this they invested many millions of dollars on the most efficient manufacturing equipment available in the world. As a result Morgan Furniture had one of the most modern, well equipped furniture manufacturing facilities in the world.
Even though Jack Morgan officially retired as Chairman in 1988 he was still actively involved and keenly interested in the company's activities, coming in on most days to "keep and eye on things", so it came as a great loss when he died in October 1992. The company was fortunate that Jack's son, Graham, had being working in the business since university. He was appointed Managing Director when his father retired, so the family's influence has been continued.
In 1993 an opportunity presented itself to go full circle when, on the 30th of November, Morgan Furniture acquired all the intellectual property rights to the Jason brand name from the Jason Furniture Company in Perth Western Australia which allowed the Company to begin to sell La-Z-Boy products in Australia. Today La-Z-Boy is well established in the Australian marketplace under the Morgan Subsidiary, LA-Z-BOY Australia Pty Ltd, with warehousing in Sydney and Perth and an extensive sales and distribution network covering every State and Territory in Australia. Over 70% of Morgan Furniture's business is now done in Australia but they have not forgotten their roots and the Company is still based in New Zealand.
More and more imports were entering the market, and in 1998 Morgan Furniture decided to setup a manufacturing facility in Thailand through a partnership with La-Z-Boy Incorporated USA and a Thailand Partner. They initially started by making their leather upholstered goods as this was the most competitive segment of the market at that time.
The manufacturing facility in Auckland continued to make all the fabric upholstered furniture for New Zealand and Australia up until December 2007 when, due to international competitiveness, Morgan Furniture regretfully had to close the plant. At its peak the factory employed over 350 staff and manufactured over 300 chairs per day.
All Morgan Furniture products are now made offshore in either plants owned and operated by themselves, or at licensed facilities which are subject to stringent standards for manufacturing processes and quality control.
The philosophy which has been with Morgan Furniture since Jack started the company in 1944 is still to provide New Zealanders with comfortable quality furniture at affordable prices. Morgan Furniture are still family owned and operated and have a large warehousing and distribution facility in Tauranga, New Zealand. Today they are the largest supplier of upholstery furniture in New Zealand.
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