• Thomas Russell

Fairmont Designs buys former Thomasville upholstery plant

Production will begin in April

HICKORY, N.C. — Case goods and upholstery producer Fairmont Designs has acquired a former Thomasville upholstery plant here that it will use to make upholstery for East Coast accounts.

The company closed on the purchase this week and plans to begin production in April.

The purchase price wasn't disclosed.

The company also has named Paul Savicki vice president of manufacturing. In that role, he will oversee the 210,000-square-foot operation, which includes about 160,000 square feet of manufacturing space and about 50,000 square feet for warehousing and distribution.

He comes to the company from Bernhardt Furniture, where he was plant manager of the company's contract seating division. Before that, he was vice president of upholstery manufacturing at Cochrane Furniture.

Earlier, he was vice president of operations at Isenhour Furniture and assistant vice president of manufacturing at Highland House Furniture, which once produced upholstery at the same Hickory plant.

Savicki said the facility will produce fully upholstered sectionals, sofas, loveseats and chairs and initially employ about 45 workers. Employment could grow to about 70 by the end of the year. Initially, it will produce about 50 pieces a day, and is projected to produce 150 a day pieces a day by year's end.

Fairmont Designs also has a 200,000-square-foot upholstery plant in Rancho Dominguez, Calif., which produces about 200 pieces a day - primarily for West Coast customers. The North Carolina plant will serve customers east of the Mississippi.

"It is another show of investment for Fairmont Designs," said Brian Edwards, president. "Where other companies are shedding workers and looking for ways to divest, we are taking steps that will make us a stronger company and have stronger offerings in the industry."

Edwards said the company realized it needed an East Coast manufacturing presence to be competitive in servicing East Coast accounts. In particular, Edwards said, the North Carolina plant will significantly reduce transportation costs.

"You can make it efficiently wherever you are, but the cost of freight becomes a dictating factor in how well you can be a value in the marketplace," Edwards said. "If we were going to service that part of the country and be competitive in what we were offering, freight is a huge factor. That issue is being resolved by having a facility in North Carolina."

To be ready for production by April, Savicki said he is hiring personnel to help run the facility and has already begun to line up production equipment, some of which the company is acquiring through auction and from other vendors.

Thomas RussellThomas Russell | Associate Editor, FurnitureToday

I'm Tom Russell and have worked at Furniture/Today since August 2003. Since then, I have covered the international side of the business from a logistics and sourcing standpoint. Since then, I also have visited several furniture trade shows and manufacturing plants in Asia, which has helped me gain perspective about the industry in that part of the world. As I continue covering the import side of the business, I look forward to building on that knowledge base through conversations with industry officials and future overseas plant tours. From time to time, I will file news and other industry perspectives online and, as always, welcome your response to these Web postings.

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