• Thomas Russell

Mobel to close after 43 years

Ferdinand, Ind. - Mobel, Inc., a manufacturer specializing in solid wood bedroom furniture, is about to close its doors after 43 years in business.
     The company informed retailers in January that it was closing after the board of directors determined it was no longer feasible to produce the same quality furniture it had been known for manufacturing over the years.
     Its solid wood line included bedroom furniture, entertainment consoles and occasional tables.
     Last week, the company was still answering the phone at its headquarters in Ferdinand, and it was not clear when the company would officially close its doors. Mobel officials have not returned calls seeking comment, but several retailers told Furniture/Today they had received letters notifying them of the impending closure.
     "We were sorry to hear that," said Hilda Cecil, co-owner of High Point Furniture Sales, a retailer in High Point. "They were a really good company...We had a longstanding relationship with them."
     Cecil said her store has been in business for about 30 years and has sold the Mobel line for the past 20. She said customers liked the solid wood construction and the fact that it was made in the U.S.
     "It just made us sick," she said after hearing of the closing from a letter the company sent in late January. "It was one of the few companies left that was made here in the U.S. It was all solid and we just loved being able to tell our customers about their furniture."
     Jim Godby, owner of Godby Home Furnishings, a three-store retailer based in central Indiana, said he too was disappointed at the news, which he also read in a letter sent in late January. He said his store, which has been in business since 1974, has carried the line for 30 years.
     "It is just a really sad situation that the small U.S. manufacturer cannot make it in today's economy," Godby said, adding that the line was good quality, solid wood furniture and said the company's staff is easy to work with.
     Jim Hendrick, owner of Hendrick's Home Furnishings in Virden, Ill., said that he had known of the line for years, but had only carried some of Mobel's occasional products for a year and a half.
     "It was a shock," he said of the news of the closing, which he too had read in a letter from the company. "But that is what is happening to the U.S. manufacturer. The Amish will take over that kind of business."
     The company was formed in 1971 and initially produced samples in Quonset huts in local rail yards. It used these facilities until it built and occupied new structures totaling around 38,000 square feet.
     According to its website, it now occupies about 200,000 square feet of warehouse, manufacturing, finishing and shipping space.
     Over the years, the company mostly showed its line at regional markets, including the Las Vegas Market. It announced plans to show in High Point for the first time in October 2012.
     At the time of this announcement, company president Ken Lamkin told Furniture/Today that its line included four-piece bedrooms that retailed from $2,700 to $3,300, a relatively competitive price for solid wood furniture.
     Mobel is not the only U.S. manufacturer facing challenging times. Higdon, a producer of promotional bedroom furniture, revealed in court documents that it has closed and is in the process of selling off its inventory.
     Both Higdon and Mobel were petitioners that supported the U.S. government's investigation into unfair pricing tactics of Chinese bedroom producers. This investigation ultimately levied duties on products these Chinese producers shipped to the U.S. For several years, starting around 2006, both Higdon and Mobel received a portion of the duties that were collected by the U.S. government. It was unclear what impact those duties had on their operations.

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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