Blue Mountain lands Hudson distribution center

By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal

BLUE MOUNTAIN – A Mississippi-based retailer could be adding hundreds of jobs in the next few years.

Hattiesburg-based Hudson’s Salvage LLC confirmed Tuesday it was locating a distribution center in the former BenchCraft/Berkline Furniture building in Blue Mountain.

News had leaked about the company’s plans in recent weeks, but officials declined to comment about the project. Hudson’s began running employment ads for the distribution center in newspapers last week, but officials stayed quiet until Tuesday.

Duane Bullard, president of the Tippah County Development Foundation, said his organization, together with the county’s board of supervisors and Blue Mountain and Ripley officials “have all worked very hard over the past three months to ensure that Hudson’s will be thrilled with the location of its new location in Tippah County.”

Indeed, Hudson’s CEO Robert Aaron Roberts said “the acquisition of this facility is critical to our further retail expansion in Alabama and Mississippi, and it positions us for even more growth in other markets including Tennessee.

“We appreciate the assistance afforded by local and state officials in making this acquisition. The roots of our company have been in Mississippi for over 70 years. We are proud to call it home and acknowledge this state as one of the best places in the country to grow your business.”

The company was founded in 1938 as Hudson Mercantile Co. and bills itself as a leading buyer of retail salvage merchandise. It also buys end-of-season merchandise and merchandise that remains after closeout sales and bankruptcies.

The distribution center will serve the company’s 49 Dirt Cheap and Treasure Hunt stores. Hudson’s employs more than 1,100 workers.

The Mississippi Development Authority said the Blue Mountain project “represents a significant investment by Hudson’s and offers the potential to create several hundred new jobs at the facility over the next several years.”

Company officials will attend an invitation-only reception at Blue Mountain College on Thursday, when more details are expected to be released.

“Hudson’s was founded in Mississippi years ago, and we are very proud of the continued success the company has experienced throughout the years,” said MDA Executive Director Gray Swoope. “The company’s decision to locate a new distribution center in Tippah County speaks volumes about its dedication to doing business in Mississippi. I appreciate company officials for their continued investment in their home state, and I look forward to working with them in the future as they continue to grow.”

BenchCraft shuttered its operations in Blue Mountain more than a year ago, laying off its final group of employees. In May 2008, it laid off 400 employees at its upholstered plant, leaving about 135 in its sewing operations.

At its peak, the Blue Mountain facility employed about 2,200 workers. The company began operations as BenchCraft in 1976.

Berkline merged with Benchcraft in 2002.

In August 2006, the company closed its Baldwyn plant, putting 400 out of work.