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Ashley Furniture adding jobs in Advance, closing Statesville plant

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ASHLEY FURNITURE

The mammoth production and distribution center of Ashley Furniture Industries Inc. in Advance is projected to gain workers as a by-product of the manufacturer closing its Statesville facility in mid-November.

An Ashley Furniture Industries Inc. production decision will increase the workforce at its massive manufacturing, distribution and fulfillment facility in Advance.

However, the additional employees in Advance will come as a ripple effect from the manufacturer’s decision to close its 309,620-square-foot distribution center at 607 Meachem Road in Statesville — affecting 111 employees.

Ashley disclosed its plans in a WARN Act notice Thursday to the N.C. Commerce Department and to Statesville Mayor Costi Kutteh.

According to the notice, the affected Statesville employees were informed Sept. 15 that the facility would cease operation by Nov. 15.

The closing appears to involve the ready-to-assemble (RTA) furniture plant Ashley acquired from Homestar North America LLC in September 2019. At that time, the plant had a workforce of 180 workers.

In the notice, Ashley listed affected job positions that include 38 RTA support staff, 26 RTA assembly and eight RTA supervisors.

Travis Wagner, Ashley’s executive vice president for global manufacturing, said in the notice the manufacturer will offer “many opportunities for employees to transfer to our Advance facility and hope they will continue employment there.”

It would be a 35- to 40-minute commute from the Statesville operations to the Advance operations where the company has 3.8-million square feet of production space.

“We’re meeting with eligible employees again soon to offer details about Advance positions, potential start dates and busing/shuttle transport we’ll provide” from Nov. 16 through Jan. 31,” Wagner wrote. “While we may transfer employees prior to Nov. 15, those who do not transfer will remain employed in Statesville through that date,” according to the notice.

The notice also said there are “many employment opportunities” at the Advance location. At last count, Ashley had more than 1,600 employees there.

The decision could help fortify the Advance operations and help resolve a consistent hiring need there that predates the COVID-19 pandemic.

For example, in 2020, Ashley announced plans to hire up to 100 new employees — “looking to fill these positions as soon as possible, due to increased demand in sales of home furnishings.”

For more information, go to https://www.indeed.com/q-Ashley-Furniture-jobs.html.

Ashley said in September 2019 that the Statesville plant purchase would allow it to “expand its diverse offering with an additional lower price-point and packaging system geared around a timelier customer-delivery process.”

The facility produced more than 500 SKUs, which include the production of bedroom, entertainment, upholstered beds, occasional tables and home-office furniture. The facility generated more than $50 million in annual sales.

Ashley planned to add a new product line at the plant with a contemporary design to attract first-time renters and home buyers.

In October 2016, Ashley closed its Colton, Calif., manufacturing facilities, eliminating 840 jobs, as part of a production restructuring.

Ashley said at that time the Colton bedding and upholstery production will be transferred to other plants, which could include in Advance.

“By shifting the majority of Colton production to other U.S. facilities, we will create more efficiency and better use of existing capacity in our manufacturing network,” Ashley said in a statement.

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@rcraverWSJ

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