Ashley unveils plans for $80M distribution, manufacturing facility in N.C.
Larry Thomas -- Furniture Today, April 20, 2012
HIGH POINT — Ashley Furniture confirmed Friday that it has acquired a 640-acre site near Advance, N.C., where it will open a manufacturing and distribution facility that eventually will encompass more than 3 million square feet.
Before a cheering crowd of more than 300 people that included furniture industry leaders, state and local government officials, and Ashley employees, Ashley Chairman Ron Wanek said the company's $80 million facility will have 550 employees within five years.
Initially, the site will serve as a distribution center, but later plans call for both upholstery and case goods to be produced there.
"This is a huge investment, a huge undertaking for us, but we are very optimistic about making this work," Wanek said. "We are very excited to be here."
The company said work at the site — a former R.J. Reynolds tobacco plant — would begin almost immediately. Initially, an existing 418,000-square-foot building will be converted into a distribution center that should be in operation by October or November.
Later, a 400,000-square-foot upholstery manufacturing plant will be added, and another 507,000 square feet will be added to the distribution center.
The final phase of the project will be a 350,000-square-foot factory for case goods manufacturing.
Once lumber drying, trucking and other support facilities are built, the entire facility will occupy more than 3 million square feet.
Wanek estimated it would take four years for all phases of the facility to be completed.
The Advance facilities will not replace any of Ashley's existing U.S. plants, officials said.
"As we see Ashley's global demand for its products increase, Ashley continues to make long-term investments in all of its facilities as well as the continued education of all employees to meet consumer demand," said Todd Wanek, Ashley's CEO.
North Carolina officials said Ashley will get a grant of up to $825,000 from the state's economic development fund. In addition, the company has been awarded a Job Development Incentive Grant, which could yield as much as $3.19 million.
Under terms of the JDIG grant, the state will give Ashley 60% of the state personal income withholding taxes derived from the creation of new jobs for 10 year, so long as the company meets annual performance targets.
North Carolina Gov. Bev Purdue was scheduled to be at market for the announcement, but her plane had mechanical trouble en route and had to return to Raleigh.