ADVANCE, NC - Ashley Furniture broke ground Wednesday on phase 2 of its $80 million furniture manufacturing and distribution complex. When fully developed it will be the largest furniture manufacturing and distribution center in the world, according to the Davie County officials.
The groundbreaking ceremonies took place two weeks after Ashley secured a building permit. The permitting process had been delayed by the surprising discovery of 4 acres of wetlands on the 668-acre site in February.
During closing remarks of the ground breaking celebration, Ron Wanek, founder and chairman of Arcadia, WI-based Ashley Furniture, said engineering and environmental studies, plus delays of the building permit, cost his company $30 million. Still, Wanek said he was happy with the location near High Point, NC, and that it was selected over sites in South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia.
Wanek, who was named a Wood Industry Market Leader by Wood & Wood Products in 2011, also thanked representatives of RJ Reynolds, former owner of the property, for building a complex consisting of more than half a million square feet of space, including a 418,000-square-foot building that Wanek said is of "Rolls-Royce" quality. Ashley Furniture plans to add a 1-million-square-foot addition to the big building to serve as its mid-Atlantic furniture distribution center and warehouse. Future planned construction phases will increase the complex to 3.8 million square feet under roof and bring at least 550 new jobs to the area.
Ashley Furniture received a green light for project on March 28 when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers granted the company a temporary permit to build on or near the 4 acres it has deemed as wetlands. This finding contradicted an environmental audit conducted by third-party experts Ashley had hired before purchasing the property.
Asley Furniture completed the $10,4 million purchase of the Advance site, which includes 1.4 million square feet of building space, last August. More recently, Ashley, purchased a 275,000-square-foot facility in Verona, MS, to make sleeper beds and mattresses.
Last May, Ashley Furniture broke ground for a $6 million expansion of its manufacturing operation in Whitehall, WI, to make motion furniture.
Founded in 1945, Ashley Furniture, based in Arcadia, WI, has grown to become the nation's largest furniture manufacturer. When the Advance, NC, plans are fully realized, Ashley will have more than 11 million square feet of domestic manufacturing, warehouse and distribution space.
In the video below - taken at the ground breaking ceremonies - Wanek talks about the new facility.
Read related blog: Ashley Furniture Never Lost Sight of Made in America