By Dennis Seid
TUPELO – J Henry joins a growing number of furniture manufacturers showing at the Tupelo Furniture Market that shies away from its traditional promotional furniture reputation.
The Okolona-based company makes its debut this week at the fall furniture market, with its stationary furniture retailing at $499 to $599.
And J Henry will debut an even higher-priced line – $699 and up – at High Point in October.
But Tupelo is where the company – formed by three industry veterans with more than 100 years of experience – will kick off what it hopes is a long run in the industry.
Virgil Henry, David Pike and Lee Caldwell joined forces earlier this year and in early July opened J Henry.
Henry and Pike are experienced veterans on the manufacturing and marketing side of the industry, and Caldwell is well known as the owner of The Cotton Bolt, one of the largest fabric suppliers and retailers in the country.
“We wanted to offer some unique cover selections and frames and do it all in the USA, in Mississippi,” said Henry. “We’ve gotten experienced employees, the management ties and the suppliers working together.
Said Caldwell, “Our core management team is unique and each party brings many years of varied, yet applicable experience to the proverbial table. In my case, I’ve been in the wholesale fabric business for many years. I have an incredible depth of inventory and I have the contacts and network to readily procure that which I don’t have. This will allow J Henry to offer the widest selection of fabrics in the industry to its customers.”
In fact, more than 600 fabrics are available. Most are imported, but some are made domestically.
The frames for the company’s furniture are sturdier, and the cushions themselves are of heartier stock.
Rather than having a standard foam cushion, which is standard fare for many furniture manufacturers, a J Henry seat cushion is made much like a mattress, using coil springs for support.
That, Henry said, provides better and consistent support.
“With foam, there could be a difference as much as 20 percent between one cushion and the next, all on the same piece of furniture,” he said.
Pike said J Henry isn’t focused on cranking out furniture in volume as it is making sure each piece is made to last and is appreciated by customers.
“We’re putting quality before quantity,” he said. “What we do is somewhat unique to most all the other furniture made n the area.”
The company has already attracted the attention of about a dozen of the top 100 largest furniture retailers in the country, and more are scheduled to visit them at the market this week.
That’s a great beginning for a relative startup, albeit one with experience on its side.
Pike and Henry think the company could easily grow to $25 million to $30 million in a few years.
Beyond that though, the company wouldn’t want to get too much bigger.
“Once you get past a certain point, things start getting out of control,” Henry said. “We’ve all seen it happen.”
Fall Furniture Market
• Runs Thursday to Sunday
• Open to registered buyers and retailers only
• Visit www.tupelofurnituremarket.com for more
• J Henry is in Building VI, space 6208 at the market.