Mount Airy was dealt another economic blow Thursday afternoon when word came that Henredon Furniture will close, representing a loss of more than 100 jobs.
The local plant on Mountain View Road off U.S. 601 is being phased out so its operations can be moved to Long View, a community near Hickory.
“It’s actually a consolidation,” said Lisa Hanley, a spokeswoman for Furniture Brands headquartered in St. Louis, Mo., to whom questions about the closure were referred. Furniture Brands is the parent company of Henredon and other manufacturers in North Carolina, including Broyhill, Drexel Heritage, Thomasville, Hickory Chair and others.
“We are still keeping businesses in North Carolina,” Hanley said, “just unfortunately not in Mount Airy.”
“Our strategy has been to consolidate where it made sense, to be more efficient,” she added regarding the shift of the local operations to Long View.
“This is a transition that will take several months,” Hanley said of the Mount Airy plant’s shutdown. “I’m not exactly sure how many.”
Hanley lacked an exact number of jobs to be lost by the facility’s closure, but said it is “a little over 100.”
The local plant manufactures upholstered furniture, she said.
Mount Airy Mayor Deborah Cochran said Thursday afternoon that she and other city officials will be sorry to see Henredon leave.
“We are shocked and saddened to hear this news,” the mayor said. “Our hearts are heavy — it’s getting harder and harder for people who own businesses, and the employees as well.”
Cochran added, “Any family that has gotten news of plant closings can relate to this.” The mayor said she has relatives working at Henredon. “I feel for them — they’re the ones most affected,” she said of the company’s work force.
An employee spotted leaving the plant late Thursday afternoon, who appeared to be in his 60s and did not give his name, said he didn’t know what he was going to do for employment “at my age” after operations there ceased.
“Ain’t no whole lot you can say about it,” the man added with dismay.
Meanwhile, Mayor Cochran expressed optimism for the future, although the upcoming Henredon closure is just the latest of textile and furniture manufacturer losses that have plagued Mount Airy in recent years.
“Despite uncertainties and adversity, this community has found a way to survive.”
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.