Timberlake Takes Action to Bring Furniture Manufacturing Back to North Carolina
Bob Timberlake's successful campaign to keep the production of his primary collection in the United States will help bring 200 woodworking jobs back to Lexington, NC.
By Hannah Miller
When Lexington Home Brands sought to have its highly popular World of Bob Timberlake brand made offshore, nationally known artist and designer Bob Timberlake balked.
"We weren't going to do it offshore. We weren't. We weren't. We weren't," says Timberlake, age 69. "At the last (High Point) furniture market, I said, ÃÂ¢??Don't ask me anymore.'"
But Lexington, which has sold more than $1 billion wholesale of the Timberlake brand during its 15 year collaboration with the famed artist, was adamant about getting out of manufacturing while continuing sales, Timberlake claims. In December, Lexington closed Plant #2, which was manufacturing the brand in Timberlake's hometown of Lexington, NC, thereby putting a reported 360 people out of work.
But then, in what Timberlake describes as a "win-win-win" situation, Lexington joined with Timberlake and local lumber and timber company, Kepley-Frank Hardwood, to form Linwood Furniture Inc. (LFI). Under the new partnership, Plant #2 reopened in March, started hiring the first of an expected 200 workers, and resumed production of the Timberlake furniture brand in the United States. Lexington Home Brands will continue to market and sell the product line, as well as a lower-price segment of the Timberlake line, Salt Aire, which is being produced offshore.
The craftsmanship shows, the quality shows. All those things that used to be of value, they're still of value to me. I don't do hardly anything that's fleeting, that's not going to be here tomorrow. I always have done things that are going to be long-term.
Timberlake: I didn't think they could do the quality and the craftsmanship [I require for the World of Bob Timberlake collection] offshore. I didn't think they could use the cherry and the quality wood we've been using.
We have a lot of people who know what our furniture is, who have seen and touched it, lived with it and used it. I'm told we have a niche in the furniture world, that our furniture is different and special. Everybody I know in the industry has told me that.
Salt Aire [also] has been a huge hit. It's [manufactured] offshore; that's why it's priced differently. It's sort of a trade out. We negotiated all that, too.
We're just trying to look after our people and our furniture - the quality of our furniture. We're trying our best to do that in our own backyard and to do what we think is right.
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