Thomas BongaertsPresident Beaufurn
From Belgium to Beaufurn
Thomas Bongaerts moved from Belgium to the United States when he was just a child. His family had to learn a new language and adjust to a totally different culture as they settled into their new life in Connecticut. Just before he entered high school, Thomas and his family moved to the Triad. Thomas’ father, Bill Bongaerts, then founded Beaufurn. Beaufurn is a high-quality commercial furniture company, now located in Advance, NC.
“It was important to be in the Triad because it is the heart of American furniture manufacturing,” Thomas said. Originally, Bill was in the residential furniture business. When a warehouse fire destroyed all of Bill’s stateside inventory all that remained were his first two “commercial” projects which were literally on a boat coming from Western Europe. It was then that Bill decided to go into the contract commercial furniture business. This was truly the genesis of what Beaufurn is today.
Throughout the years Thomas watched and helped Beaufurn grow. He worked in nearly every position imaginable at one point or another. From production sampling, screwing together frames, to website management and sales, he’s done it all. In 2017 he became President of both Beaufurn and Shelter Outdoor, the company which started in 2016.
While he still speaks fluent Flemish and remains in touch with his Belgian roots Thomas said, “I’ve been here since before high school, so now I’m more North Carolinian than anything.” He shows his love for the community in countless ways, including supporting many local charities.
“Even when times are tough, we try to give back all that we can. It’s important to take care of the community. Who knows, some of the people we help may come to work for us some day,” Thomas said.
Thomas also spoke to the importance of apprenticeships in Beaufurn’s skilled labor positions. “When people go through our apprenticeship programs they gain a completely new track in life because they are learning a trade that they can really make money in as they gain skills and experience.”
At Beaufurn and Shelter Outdoor there is a strong belief in everything coming full circle. When local businesses purchase Beaufurn or Shelter Outdoor furniture it grows the company, allowing them to provide more opportunities for the workforce and invest more back into the local community in charitable support. Throughout his life Thomas has traveled the world. Now, he’s happy to call the Triad home, and is grateful he’s able to give back to community he loves.
Even when times are tough, we try to give back all that we can. It’s important to take care of the community. Who knows, some of the people we help may come to work for us some day.
President | Beaufurn