Recently I was able to attend a conference in Eastern Ohio held in a new church facility. As I sat through a couple of morning sessions I noticed that the new “theater seat” I was sitting in was really not very comfortable. Though I believed I knew who the manufacturer was just from looking at the chairs, I got down on the floor to look underneath the seat for the confirming information I knew was there. I had guessed correctly.
Over lunch I had the opportunity to speak with the church’s Executive Pastor and some other staff members. To a person, they spoke highly of their new building and their church furniture and how happy they were with everything except two areas. One of those was their sound system, and other was their theater seating. They were dealing with a general displeasure from their congregation and found themselves sadly finding the complaints warranted.
Theater seating in the church market is dominated by three or four manufacturers and most of the product is made offshore. The thinking seems to be, “The church will only use these on Sundays and we don’t need a performing arts quality of seat for a one-day use application.” Couple that with the reality that churches are always looking for a lower price, and my discomfort in that theater seat was explained.
It’s interesting though that when I am in most performing arts centers (and under their seats looking for the manufacturer’s name) I don’t find the names of any of the manufacturers that are most common in the church market. And the comfort and quality of that performing arts seat is immediately evident.
Who do I see the most in those performing arts settings? Inevitably it is American Seating. Manufactured in Grand Rapids, MI, this seat stands out. Recently American Seating has taken steps to enter the church market in a more prominent manner as Church Furniture Partner is now partnering with American Seating nationally to help churches obtain a superior product level for similar dollars. If you’re thinking of theater seating for your church, I encourage you to check out American Seating before you purchase. You’re going to be using these seats a long time. You may avoid being in the situation those staff members I had lunch with were in!