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It's Globalization Payback Time
for Domestic Furniture Makers

Our Buy American Mention of the Week!
by Roger Simmermaker
April 18, 2003

Furniture makers heavy with American workers on their payrolls are getting revenge on globalization these days. Call it "payback time." Furniture companies that have recently fired their American workers for low-cost wages in China are scrambling.

The SARS epidemic in China is slamming furniture makers that heavily depend on that country as a source for filling furniture showrooms in America. Although China still accounts for under 15% of the furniture sold here, some companies such as Pulaski, Va., based Pulaski Furniture import half of their furniture from the communist country. Hooker Furniture of Martinsville, Va., imports over 50% of its furniture from China.

What are the brands to look for if you want to buy "Made in USA? " Century Furniture of Hickory, NC, makes 95% of its furniture domestically, and Mitchell Gold of Taylorsville, NC, boasts that all of its furniture is made in the USA!

Because of the SARS epidemic, Furniture Brands International of St. Louis - maker of Thomasville, Lane and Broyhill - have yanked all their American employees out of China, shelved travel plans to China, and have left quality control in the hands of the locals. However, Pulaski Furniture president and chief executive John Wampler says "it's just not economically viable to move it back here," when asked about returning production to America. Hot sellers for Pulaski such as the Antiques Roadshow line are already facing delivery delays of six to nine months.

Furniture makers like Century that have bucked the trend of Asian imports have begun fastening American flags on the inside of their dresser drawers. Touting the "Made in USA" slogan is nothing new to Vaughan-Bassett, however. John Bassett III says his 102-year-old company has been affixing "Proudly Made in America by Americans" stickers on his furniture for years.

Furniture companies that have resisted globalization and kept their American workers on the assembly line instead of the unemployment line are finally starting to reap the rewards of their patriotic decisions. How sweet it is.


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