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Larry Thomas

Ashley buys Miss. Plant

VERONA, Miss. - Ashley Furniture said it has acquired a 275,000-square-foot facility here that will be used as a factory, customer support center and replacement parts center.
     Ashley officials said the site, a former distribution center for Morgan Fabrics, will produce mattresses and sofa-sleepers in addition to stocking replacement parts and hosting customer support services.
     The building, which will be Ashley's third facility in Mississippi, sits on a 35-acre site in the Tupelo-Lee Industrial Park South and could be expanded if the need arises, said Todd Wanek, president and CEO.
     "It is close in proximity to Ashley's existing facilities in Ripley and Ecru, serviced by a rail line, and located in a foreign trade zone," Wanek said.
     He said production of mattresses and sofa-sleepers will begin this summer, while the replacement parts and customer support centers will open by the end of the year.
     About 150,000 square feet will be devoted to manufacturing, and about 60 jobs will be added during the first phase of its development, the company said.
     "This decision was the result of several years of global strategic and grass roots analysis," said Wanek. "Mississippi is a business-friendly state that we are happy to call home."
     He said the company worked with the Mississippi Development Authority, the Community Development Foundation of Tupelo, and the office of Gov. Phil Bryant to secure the deal.
     "The leadership of Gov. Bryant along with the cooperation and expertise of the Mississippi Development Authority and the Community Development Foundation have made this new expansion possible," said Wanek. "Ashley is proud to be associated with them."
     The Verona facility is Ashley's second major expansion in less than 12 months. In April, the company acquired a former R.J. Reynolds tobacco plant in Advance, N.C. An existing 418,000- square-foot building there has been converted into a distribution center that currently employs about 80 people. Long-range plans call for construction of an upholstery factory and a case goods factory on the 640-acre site. The company has said the North Carolina site will have about 3 million square feet of production and warehouse space and 550 employees within five years.

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