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Ashley revives plans for East Coast facility

Considers Virginia site for manufacturing, distribution center
ARCADIA, Wis. — Ashley Chairman Ron Wanek says he believes the economy is turning around enough that the company plans to open another manufacturing and distribution center to serve the East Coast.

Wanek said the company, America's largest furniture manufacturer and retailer, is looking in Virginia and the Carolinas for a location that can handle the production of upholstery and some case goods.

Broadcast reports indicate that Ashley has been considering a Thomasville facility in Appomattox, Va., but Wanek said a decision has not made. Thomasville parent Furniture Brands International announced earlier that it is closing the facility in March, idling 200 people.

Wanek said the "ideal" footprint for the facility would be 150 acres and a manufacturing and distribution plant of 1.2 million square feet close to major highways, rail and ports.

Any plant the company would open would represent about a $200 million investment and would employ about 1,000 people, he said.

Wanek said the company started looking for a Mid-Atlantic location five years ago but put the search on hold "while the economy struggled." He said he believes it is improving. "We're back to becoming positive. I'm optimistic that the economy is getting better."

He said the company will consider a "green field" location and build its own facility, or an idled manufacturing facility that can offer the efficiencies Ashley wants.

Ashley has U.S. manufacturing and warehousing operations at its headquarters in Arcadia, Wis., and in Ecru and Ripley, Miss.; Brandon, Fla.; Colton, Calif., and Leesport, Pa.

Wanek said a new East Coast facility would not affect the Pennsylvania facility and would serve other regions.

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