July 9, 2008

Lexington Loses 350 More Furniture Jobs

By Richard Craver, Winston-Salem Journal, N.C.

Jul. 9--Davidson County's battered furniture industry received another major blow today when Stanley Furniture Co. Inc. said it was closing its Lexington plant and cutting 350 jobs by mid-October.

The company, based in Stanleytown, Va., said it is moving production to a more modern plant in Robbinsville.

The plant is the largest major manufacturing plant left in the county, which has lost more than 4,800 furniture jobs since 2001.

Stanley is cutting two executive positions -- vice president of purchasing and vice president of human resources -- as part of the restructuring. It also is offering a voluntary early retirement incentive to qualified salaried employees.

"Historically low levels of consumer confidence, housing activity and personal disposable income has led to an industrywide weakness in consumer demand for residential furniture not seen since the early 1980's," said Jeffrey Scheffer, the president and chief executive of Stanley.

"We are making difficult moves from top to bottom and throughout our business to remain profitable now and to be well-positioned for continued success when demand eventually improves."

"Our commitment to domestic manufacturing -- which accounts for about two-thirds of our revenues -- means that we must continue to manage our costs through improved work flow, labor productivity and better asset utilization."

The company said it plans to add 200 jobs at the Robbinsville plant.

Stanley said it will provide the Lexington employees with career counseling and job-training assistance through the N.C. Employment Security Commission. It also is applying for benefits from the U.S. Trade Adjustment Assistance Act, which provides job-training benefits for up to two years for displaced manufacturing workers.


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