Hundreds of furniture company workers just lost their jobs after a furniture company about an hour north of Charlotte closed abruptly over the weekend.
Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams workers were met with signs Saturday on the office door and a gate saying the Taylorsville plant was “unexpectedly” unable to continue business operations. Taylorsville in Alexander County is about one hour north of Charlotte.
The layoffs affect 533 employees at three sites, according to the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) filed Monday with the North Carolina Department of Commerce.
There are 440 workers at One Comfortable Place, Taylorsville; 47 workers at 125 Lulu Lane, Statesville; and 46 employees at 375 Sharpe Lane, Hiddenite, in Alexander County, according to the report emailed to The Charlotte Observer.
“This has been an extremely difficult decision, as it means the loss of many dedicated and valued employees. Thus, any assistance that you can provide in helping us to place our employees in new work would be greatly appreciated,” MG+BW CEO Chris Moye said in the WARN letter to the state.
The announcement was just the latest in a line of closures to befall North Carolina’s once-robust furniture-making industry.
Earlier this month, Asheboro-based Klaussner Furniture Industries Inc. said it was ceasing operations with nearly 900 job losses, WARN notices filed with the North Carolina Department of Commerce show.
Last year, Ashley Furniture Furniture Industries permanently closed its Statesville facility, resulting in 111 layoffs, when the Wisconsin-based company consolidated operations, The Charlotte Observer previously reported.
Employees at several North Carolina sites for MG+BW were told not to report to work Monday, including at the main plant in Taylorsville as well as in Statesville, Hiddenite, and teleworkers.
“We are sorry about the difficulties this may cause,” the sign said. “As soon as we have a schedule to get your tools & personal belongings, we will contact you.”
‘SIGNIFICANT CHALLENGES’ IN FURNITURE INDUSTRY
A letter posted on the door from Moye, dated Aug. 26 to employees, said The Mitchell Gold Co. was unable to secure financing to continue operations. He said the furniture industry has had “significant challenges.
“Because these events were unforeseen, we were unable to provide you and others with more notice of this difficult decision,” Moye said in the letter shared by The Taylorsville Times.
Benefits, such as health insurance, end Aug. 31. The majority of employees’ termination date is Oct. 25, Moye said in the letter.
The furniture company has been in business since 1989, focused on “earth-friendly upholstery” and handcrafted furniture, according to the company website. The Taylorsville factory covers nearly 1 million square feet, according to the company.
MG+BW has over 700 employees, including its stores throughout the U.S. and Canada, according to the company’s website.
Company officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.
FURNITURE COMPANY CLOSING ‘DEVASTATING’
A number of people in the area called MG+BW’s closing “devastating” for employees and the communities.
“The closing of the Mitchell Gold Plant in Taylorsville, NC (my very small hometown) IS devastating. Not just to the workers of this large furniture plant, but to the community, and the businesses that have popped up around this large factory as well,” Nikki King said Sunday on Facebook. Many will have to look outside of the community for a job in places that could be up to an hour away.”
“This will also have a significant financial impact on the cities of Taylorsville and Hiddenite,” Chris Childers said Sunday on Facebook. “My heart goes out to all that were affected by this cowardly act of betrayal from people that claim to love and support their communities!”
Alexander County had no prior knowledge of the furniture company’s closing, but is working with the Western Piedmont Council of Governments, NCWorks and local industries to help employees.
“The sudden closure of Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams in Alexander County is devastating news to many of the citizens and families that rely on employment there, and our hearts go out to them,” said Marty Pennell, chairman of the Alexander County Board of Commissioners, in a statement Monday to The Charlotte Observer.
OTHER COMPANIES OFFERING JOBS
People in the furniture and other industries are offering support and job opportunities for the MG+BW workers.
“We never want to see this happen in the furniture industry,” said Alex Reeves, president of Craftmaster Furniture in the statement from the county. He said this company is in a “very healthy financial position” and accepting applications.
Tim Little, co-president of Schneider Mills, encourages job seekers to apply with the over 100-year-old textile company. Schneider Mills makes fabric for parachutes to automotive airbags and surgical bandages, according to the company’s website.
“As a native of Alexander County, it is especially hard to see a local company close,” Brandon Kale, plant manager at Paragon Films in Alexander County said in a statement. “If we can offer work that supports families, that’s want we want to do.”
MORE HELP FOR LAID-OFF WORKERS
Alexander County commissioners and staff have been working with the Western Piedmont Council of Governments, Western Piedmont Workforce Development Board and NCWorks, a workforce resources hub, to help laid off MG+BW employees, the county said Monday.
NCWorks can help with career planning and coaching, resume writing and review, job preparation workshops and training scholarships, and skills assessments.
NCWorks staff will be at Catawba Valley Community College Alexander Applied Technologies Center, 230 Industrial Blvd., Taylorsville, this week and next week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday.