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.