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Thomas Russell

Harden receives 2 grants to modernize operations

MCCONNELLSVILLE, N.Y. - Upper-end case goods and upholstery manufacturer Harden Furniture has received two grants totaling $750,000 that will contribute to an ongoing modernization of its sawmill and furniture production operations.
     The funding includes $600,000 from the New York State Economic Development Corp. and a $150,000 is a federal Community Development Block Grant, secured from Oneida County, where Harden is located.
     The $600,000 grant will go toward a $3 million upfit of its plant in McConnellsville, which produces solid wood bedroom, dining room and occasional furniture as well as Harden's upholstery line.
     This upfit includes a conversion to a custom manufacturing process called Batch One, which produces items individually to order. To help facilitate this process, the company invested in a new Holz- Her CNC Promaster woodworking center that allows the company to work with various wood species and sizes for custom orders.
     Older systems required a minimum of 25 pieces to be efficient, but the new equipment can process pieces one at a time.
     Harden also is using the money to a renovate its rough mill and expand its sawmill operations, as well as upgrading IT systems and improving air quality in the finishing area.
     The improvements are expected to be completed by January 2015, said Greg Harden, president and CEO of the company, which was founded in 1844 and is considered the oldest U.S. manufacturer of residential furniture.
     The $150,000 grant will be evenly split between the furniture manufacturing operation and the sawmill, which produces more than 4 million board feet of Adirondack hardwood each year. Some 40% of this is used in Harden's furniture. The company sells the rest to manufacturers of various other products.
     Equipment such as a new dovetailer and flat sander will be purchased to support the woodworking center. The remaining $75,000 primarily will be spent on a metal detector that helps find metal objects such as spikes, nails and even horseshoes, in logs.
     Harden expects the metal detection equipment to be installed by early July. He said the furniture equipment should be installed by late May or early June.
     "It certainly is an enormous help to us," Harden said of the grant funding. "It is also nice to be able to work in partnership with New York State. It is a big investment they are making in our future and likewise, we are making a big investment in New York state."

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