GALAX, VA – Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Co. announced today that it will open a factory in Galax in March to machine, assemble and finish bedroom furniture. Vaughan-Bassett is spending $1.5 million to purchase the old Webb #1 bedroom plant, which is adjacent to Vaughan-Bassett’s main factory on Railroad Avenue in Galax. Webb Furniture Enterprises closed Plant #1 in January of 2006, laying off 300 workers. Vaughan-Bassett Chairman John Bassett and his son Wyatt Bassett, the company’s president and CEO, made the announcement in front of 500 cheering workers on the Galax plant’s first shift.
In addition to the opening of its new factory, Vaughan-Bassett also announced a major expansion of its Galax factory. The company has purchased over $1.7 million of equipment to expand its Rough End, the section of a case goods plant that cuts the lumber into a workable length, width and thickness and removes any defects from the wood. The system will be installed during the week of July 4th, when the plant will already be closed for vacation. To make room for the new Rough End system, some of the machinery in Vaughan-Bassett’s main plant will be moved next door to the Webb #1 facility.
Vaughan-Bassett’s sales grew by 19 percent during the 4th Quarter of 2011, which ended on Dec. 3rd. “Both orders and sales are up over 20 percent for the first six weeks of our 2012 fiscal year as well,” Wyatt Bassett noted. According to an analysis by furniture industry expert Jerry Epperson of Mann, Armistead & Epperson, sales for the overall furniture industry increased by just 2.6 percent through the first nine months of 2011. Epperson’s November issue of The Furnishings Digest further noted that domestic wood sales were growing through the first nine months of 2011 while imports of wood furniture to the U.S. were shrinking.
Vaughan-Bassett credits its unusually strong growth rate to the “Made in the USA” trend that has taken hold with the American consumer. “Our sales first jumped after we were featured as the master bedroom set in the 'Made in America' house last February on The ABC World News with Diane Sawyer” said Doug Bassett, Vaughan-Bassett’s COO. “Furniture dealers are reporting to us that their customers are asking for American-made products. We are benefitting from the fact that 98 percent of our furniture is made in the USA and the fact that we’re the only large player offering domestically produced bedroom in the middle price points,” he said.
When completed in July of 2012, Vaughan-Bassett will have expanded its production capacity by up to 50 percent. “Today, we are the largest wooden bedroom manufacturer in the United States, with almost 700 employees,” said Wyatt Bassett. Ninety-eight percent of all Vaughan-Bassett’s sales come from products made in the USA, with less than two percent of its sales coming from imports. “We need this expansion because we are growing quickly and we have reached full capacity in our Galax factory,” he said. When the initial phase of the expansion project is completed in July, about 50 workers will be employed at the Webb #1 factory. That number would increase further by the end of 2012, but is dependent primarily on the rate of the company’s growth in coming months. Currently, Vaughan-Bassett employs about 630 people in Virginia and about 675 overall. The company has committed to adding 115 jobs in Virginia by 2015.
Vaughan-Bassett is receiving incentives and support for the plant re-opening and expansion project from local and state incentive programs. If Vaughan-Bassett meets certain capital expenditure requirements and adds 115 jobs in Virginia in the next 38 months -- by March of 2015 -- the company will receive approximately $56,250 in incentives from the City of Galax, $200,000 from the Virginia Tobacco Region Opportunity Fund (TROF), and $75,000 from the Virginia Jobs Investment Program (VJIP). The incentives represent less than 5 percent of Vaughan-Bassett $8 million investment.
Speaking about today’s announcement, Gov. McDonnell said, “Vaughan-Bassett has been a corporate staple in Galax since its founding in 1919. In addition to opening a new factory the company will expand its current operation, and I congratulate this Virginia-grown company on its success as the largest manufacturer of wooden bedroom furniture in the U.S. Vaughan-Bassett has thrived in the Commonwealth for more than nine decades and I am confident it will continue to be a major employer and corporate partner in Southwest Virginia.”
The City of Galax is providing incentives of $56,250 towards the project, along with Enterprise Zone Incentives as called out in the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program. “Vaughan-Bassett’s announcement of expanding their operation in Galax and re-opening the old Webb #1 plant is exciting news,” said Galax Mayor C.M. Mitchell. “The addition of 75 new jobs to their workforce in Galax with this announcement, in addition to 40 still to be hired from their last expansion, shows their confidence in the ability of our workforce to produce an excellent product. This is a great company with historic ties to Galax, and we look forward to their continued success in our community.”
“I am pleased that the Tobacco Commission is able to assist with the expansion of Vaughan-Bassett and the City of Galax. This expansion is a gateway for economic development and helps to increase employment opportunities for citizens in our region,” said Delegate Terry G. Kilgore, chairman of the Tobacco Commission.
“It’s great to be involved in this latest expansion by one of the region’s largest employers,” said Tom Elliott, Executive Director of Virginia’s aCorridor, the regional economic development partnership. “Nothing is more important than supporting our existing industry and we salute Vaughan-Bassett’s longstanding and vital role in this community.”
“We are incredibly grateful to the Governor, to the folks at TROF and VJIP, and to the city of Galax for moving so quickly to help us reopen this factory and create more jobs here in Galax, Virginia,” said John Bassett. “They pulled together the necessary paperwork in just a few days when the process often takes weeks or months,” John Bassett said. “Vaughan-Bassett is still here because we know how to move quickly and efficiently. We are extremely impressed that the city and the state have proven to be so efficient and nimble. And finally, we’d like to publicly thank State Senator Bill Stanley, who was instrumental in helping fast-track our applications with the state,” said Bassett.
“This commitment by the Commonwealth to Vaughan-Bassett will help them to continue the tremendous job they do in keeping furniture manufacturing in the Commonwealth and creating good paying jobs for our citizens,” said State Senator Bill Stanley. “I was pleased to work with both Vaughan-Bassett and the Governor’s office to make this happen. Vaughan-Bassett continues to demonstrate why they are a leader in Virginia industry and important to the future success of our local economy.”
“Today’s announcement is welcome news for the Ninth District,” said Congressman H. Morgan Griffith. “This expansion and significant investment illustrates Vaughan-Bassett’s unwavering commitment to the Galax community and American manufacturing. During trying economic times when many businesses left, they stayed put. Vaughan-Bassett’s success is evidence of the growing demand for quality products ‘Made in the USA.’ I commend them for creating much-needed jobs in Southwest Virginia and look forward to working with them as they continue to grow,” added Congressman Griffith.
“I am very excited that Vaughan-Bassett is adding jobs in Galax. They’re a top-notch employer for our region and it’s nice to see a domestic manufacturer expanding. I am happy to have worked with Senator Stanley on this investment and appreciate the folks at Vaughan-Bassett for making an investment in Southwest Virginia,” said Delegate Israel O’Quinn.
“We are winning the battle against our Asian competition because we have the finest workforce in the world and we have the best equipped factories in the world,” said John Bassett, Vaughan-Bassett’s chairman. “The Webb factory already has the newest and most sophisticated finishing line in the United States, and we will also equip the factory with state-of-the-art machinery that we will relocate from our Galax and Elkin factories, plus some brand new machines that we will purchase this year,” he added.
An overview of the investments at both sites:
PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS: Webb #1
Vaughan-Bassett Galax Plant:
GRAND TOTAL: $8.0 MILLION
Source: Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Co.
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