Caldwell to add 400 furniture jobs

Caldwell County finally got some good news about furniture jobs.

After a decade of losing thousands of manufacturing jobs in the industry – a bedrock employer in the area for generations – the foothills county will get 400 new jobs in a Broyhill Furniture plant consolidation announced Thursday.

Broyhill President Jeff Cook said the company plans to consolidate its five upholstery plants and warehouses in North Carolina into its old Pacemaker plant in Lenoir.

Most of the 670 workers at Broyhill plants now operating in Taylorsville and Lenoir will be offered jobs at the consolidated facility, where officials expect to start production early next year.

Broyhill will add more than 400 jobs there over the next three years, Cook said.

The company considered moving to a plant in Mississippi that would have required no renovations. But Caldwell County and Lenoir together offered $2 million in incentives to stay.

Combined with a $2 million state grant, the package convinced Broyhill to stay in the county where it started in 1905.

If Broyhill had moved, “it would have absolutely devastated us,” said Caldwell County commissioners' chairman Herb Greene. “We're not just talking about the economy, but the spirit of the people of Caldwell County.”

Broyhill, which currently employs about 1,200 people in North Carolina, closed the 650,000-square-foot Pacemaker plant in 2006 after making wood case goods there since 1971.

Upfitting the building will cost an estimated $5 million, but Cook said the consolidation will save Broyhill in operations costs.

The (Raleigh) News & Observer contributed.