Shenandoah Furniture Co., a North Carolina-based upholstered furniture manufacturer, announced Friday it will be opening a production facility in Mount Airy.
And it may have been the closure of another facility in the city that opened the door for Shenandoah.
Shenandoah, based in Valdese, announced the expansion Friday afternoon, little more than a month after Henredon Furniture Co. announced plants to close its Mount Airy plant, idling more than 100 workers.
“This is an exciting time for our company,” said Shenandoah President Candace Payne. “In today’s economy and competitive market, we are fortunate that we are in a position to invest in an expansion in order to meet our current production demands.”
The company labels itself as “an upholstered furniture manufacturer, specializing in high quality sofas and chairs in the upper medium price range, primarily for private labels, such as Crate and Barrel, Room & Board, and Design Within Reach.”
Shenandoah, according to a written statement by Payne, is known for meeting customer demands on a quick turn-around. Throughout its history the company has found some challenges in getting skilled, experienced workers who could do the upholstery work for which the firm is known.
“We are excited about the opportunity to employ experienced craftspeople in Mount Airy who also have the skills and quality focus necessary to craft our upholstered product.”
Todd Tucker, president of the Surry County Economic Development Partnership Inc., said the decision by company officials to make their move has come about relatively quickly.
“They approached us about three weeks ago,” he said. “They came through a local real estate, interested after they had heard about Henredon closing, what they said about skilled craftspeople is a big thing for them.”
While no one wanted to see Henredon close and leave town, that now-ready workforce with upholstery experience made Mount Airy attractive to the firm, he explained.
“This is great news,” said Mayor Deborah Cochran. “The company has visited and looked at facilities in Mount Airy,” she said, which dovetails with the city’s efforts at trying to rebuild its manufacturing base. “Our priorities are manufacturing, jobs and promoting the private sector…furniture is a legacy industry for Mount Airy, an emblem of a chair is on our city seal. We want furniture manufacturing to come back.”
Tucker, while equally happy with the announcement, cautioned that there is much work yet to be done.
“It’s not a complete deal yet, they still have to find a building, we’re working with them diligently on that, they definitely have a desire to expand into Mount Airy…and we’re moving forward with helping them do that.”
Neither Tucker, Cochran, nor Shenandoah’s Barbara McKinney, were certain how many jobs the firm might eventually open in Mount Airy, nor where they certain on a time frame.
McKinney said the company was founded in 1981 in Martinsville, Va., and opened its first manufacturing facility in Collinsville, Va., that year. It opened a second facility in Martinsville in 1992 and expanded with another facility in Valdese in 2006, where the corporate headquarters are now located. It remains a family-owned operation.
“This expansion will serve to enhance our company’s position in the marketplace, therefore further strengthening our company’s position in the communities of Martinsville, Valdese, and now Mount Airy,” Payne said in her statement.
She was not available Friday for additional comment nor to address questions reguarding workforce size or a timetable for opening the Mount Airy operation.