North Carolina Economic Development Guide


Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 40 of 83

factories shuttered in North Carolina alone since 2000. Davie County was not spared. Mocksville-based Thomson Crown Wood Products Co.���s plant once employed 750 making cabinets for RCA television sets. Also in Mocksville, Hickory-based Baker Furniture Co. employed 350 before production was consolidated and moved to Hildebran, and Thomasville-based Lexington Home Brands closed a plant in 2003 that employed 250. Bralley says 90% of those interviewed for the initial supervisory jobs at the Ashley distribution center were unemployed. A privately held, family-owned business ��� Wanek���s son, Todd, is president and CEO ��� Ashley Furniture Industries traces its roots back to 1945. In addition to its headquarters and, at 2.2 million square feet, the largest wood-furniture plant in the U.S. in Arcadia, it has manufacturing and distribution centers in Whitehall, Wis.; Leesport, Pa.; Ecru and Ripley, Miss.; Brandon, Fla.; and Colton and Redlands, Calif. Including factories in Vietnam and China, it has a total of 10.8 million square feet of manufacturing space. The company, which sells furniture, upholstery and mattresses through a variety of retailers in 123 countries, posted $3.5 billion in sales in 2011. Its retail division, Ashley Furniture HomeStores, has 465 independently owned stores in about a dozen countries in North America, Central America and Asia, recently opening its frst in China. ���We���re developing the model there for that market,��� Wanek says. ���We plan on eventually having 1,000 stores in China.��� Sixty percent of its product line is made in the U.S., ���which is more than any company of our size.��� The Chinese and Vietnamese plants supply components that are assembled in the U.S. ���If we didn���t import, there would be no manufacturing in the U.S. That makes us competitive in the global market.��� ���One thing I like about Ashley,��� says Robert Wisecarver, vice chairman of the Davie County Board of Commissioners, ���is their commitment to being Americanmade. Even though they have divisions overseas, the bulk of their production is here.��� In addition to its offshore sourcing, Ashley will look for domestic suppliers of foam, component parts, springs and chemical fnishings, which will beneft local vendors and attract more to the Triad. ���This is another big opportunity for the region,��� Bolton says. He used Ashley to market the Triad as a location for furniture distribution and manufacturing at the Furniture China 2012 trade show in Shanghai, second in size to only the High Point Market. Ashley originally looked at sites for the new distribution and manufacturing center before the Great Recession put those plans on hold for fve years. The search resumed after increased sales stressed the company���s supply chain. Many factors steered Ashley to the 680 acres outside Advance. Paul Broyhill, former president and CEO of Lenoir-based Broyhill Furniture Industries Inc., talked about the advantages of doing business in North Carolina with fellow Furniture Hall of Fame member Wanek, who in turn talked to local, regional and state offcials. ���They were all just excellent people to work with,��� he says. ���I can���t say enough about how reactive they were, getting answers to all our questions.��� ���Mr. Wanek went around this county long before our initial meetings,��� Wisecarver says. ���He knew the graduation rate of the high school. They really did their homework.��� County Commission Chairman Carl Humphrey says, ���I think it speaks volumes that someone like that would spend their time going around the community on their own. I took that as a positive thing ��� that they care about the workforce and community.��� And the community set about proving it cared about the company and the jobs it would provide its workforce. The EDC contributed 360 undeveloped acres ��� valued at $3.5 million ��� Many factors steered Ashley to North Carolina, including how responsive local and state economic offcials were to the company���s questions. North Carolina Economic Development Guide 39

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of North Carolina Economic Development Guide - 2013