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From Home Furnishing Business

Vanguard Furniture Buys Former Drexel Heritage Plant

Vanguard Furniture has recently acquired what was locally known as Drexel Plant #60 in Morganton, N.C. The 163,000 square foot factory will be restored, refurbished, and equipped with state-of-the-art equipment. 

“This plant has a rich history and an ideal footprint for making custom furniture,” said Andy Bray, president of Vanguard. “The building is on one level, has high ceilings and will allow Vanguard to efficiently warehouse materials and ship finished furniture.”

When asked why the plant in Morganton was selected, Bray replied, “The local community has hundreds of generational craftsmen with sawdust in their blood. In fact, many of our best artisans and craftsmen currently make the 30-mile trip to our Conover headquarters every day and are thrilled at the prospect of not having to commute as far. This is a classic win-win. We create jobs and with expanded capacity and shorten lead-times for our dealers and their customers.”

Revitalizing old factories is good for the community and the country. Area furniture plant closings and the elimination of jobs had been a recurring theme over the past two decades. Storied factories were shuttered, and hundreds of skilled artisans and craftsmen were furloughed with production moving production to Asia. Despite the problems it has created, one good thing arising from supply chain issues is the reemergence of U.S. manufacturing.

When asked how many new jobs this will create, he replied, “the Morganton facility has the potential to add as many as 150 jobs, representing a significant increase in our workforce. The new facility will make both casegoods and upholstery. We need everything from sewers to finishers.” When asked why Vanguard was making an investment in domestic production now, he replied, “Many reasons. We specialize in custom furniture. We want to fully control the materials and the quality. Our furniture is bench made one at a time by hand which requires artisans not factory workers. But equally importantly, manufacturing closer to our customers reduces transportation costs and delivery time.”

The tide has turned,” added Bray. “Rocketing demand in home furnishings, and complications with the supply chain will resurrect North Carolina furniture manufacturing. Vanguard has outgrown its ability to meet demand with its current manufacturing facilities. The fourth quarter of 2021 was the biggest shipping period in our 53-year history, and we still have a very large backlog. There is steady demand for high quality custom upholstery and casegoods.” 

When asked why, he replied, “After spending months during COVID, consumer values about their homes have changed. They are no longer willing to settle for mass produced cookie cutter furniture. They want furniture that has been customized to reflect their personal style and personality. This acquisition helps to restore Morganton to its vaunted heritage and meet the pent-up demand for truly special furniture.”



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