Made In USA Furniture Takes a Hit

By Rich Christianson | Posted: 01/28/2014 4:27PM

 

The Made-in-America furniture movement suffered a setback last month when Heritage Home Group announced it would close two Thomasville factories and a Lane factory effective March 21, putting more than 560 people out of work.

The plant closings are part of an ongoing restructuring that began immediately after KPS Capital Partners purchased the assets of Furniture Brands out of bankruptcy last September. The first order of business was renaming the company that also includes Broyhill, Henredon, Drexel Heritage and other well-known brands, Heritage Home Group.

Considering how far Furniture Brands fell, including getting kicked off the NY Stock Exchange before filing for Chapter 11, difficult decisions had to be made by the new owners, including plant closings and layoffs.

A silver lining in the dark-black cloud known as the Great Recession was that American consumers were buying more products Made in America. This helped fuel the notion that we would see more reshoring, such as Stanley Furniture’s decision to move production of its Young America furniture line from China to Robbinsville, NC. In addition, Ashley Furniture’s plans to build the world’s largest furniture manufacturing and distribution complex in Advance, NC was welcomed by many as another highly visible sign that U.S. wood furniture manufacturing was making a comeback.

But not everything has gone well for the U.S. furniture renaissance. Lincolnton Furniture, which became a media darling of “Made in America,” closed down without warning at the start of last year. 2013 also saw the demise of Linwood Furniture, which operated an 800,000-square-foot facility and Crawford Furniture Manufacturing, est. 1893 of Jamestown, NY.

For too long we have watched conglomerates, first Masco then Furniture Brands, take the path of least resistance to profit off the household names of their iconic brands. To satisfy quarterly statements for shareholders, instead of investing in a domestic manufacturing future, they have steadily moved one furniture line after another off shore.

Only time will tell if the new owners of Thomasville, Lane, Broyhill, et al will reverse this unsettling course.

 

About the Author

Rich Christianson

Rich Christianson is Associate Publisher and Editor at Large of Woodworking Network. During his 25+ years covering the wood products industry, Rich has toured hundreds of manufacturing plants throughout North America, Europe and Asia. His reporting has covered everything from the state of the industry and impact of wood imports to technology and environmental issues. In his current capacity he is responsible for editing the daily Woodworking Network Update newsletter and coordinating events including the annual Cabinets & Closets Conference & Expo and Canada’s biennial Woodworking Machinery & Supply Expo. He can be contacted at rchristianson@woodworkingnetwork.com or follow him on Google+.

Read more of Rich Christianson's blogs.


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Rick Bullin    
Lexington, NC  |  February, 03, 2014 at 09:23 AM

Great information and article appreciated very much your tactful language as one who started in the business in 1974 with Dixie Furniture (Lexington Furniture) and watching all that has transpired it just make me sick to my stomach at times when I ride by these SHUTTLED-SHUT-DOWN Factories and think of the people out of work and the lives of families affected. Having traveled around this area for many years in machine-tool sales with many face-to-face meetings with upper management and the decision makers for manufacturing machine purchases it burdens me to think of the ones who are gone who put their life’s work in these companies and now for what it seems, all is gone. (You left out INTERCO) Watching my chosen profession disappear when my feelings were what a wonderful decision I had made for my future was like a divorce you just watch your friends and life events crumble around you. If not for the Century Furniture – Vaughn Bassett – etc. of this world who dug in their heels and stayed true to the heirloom case goods business all would be gone just venting a little, Thanks for the article,

 

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