By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
BALDWYN – Upholstered furniture manufacturer H.M. Richards works closely with select retailers across the country, a business model that has accelerated the company’s growth.
On Friday, the company officially broke ground on a $1.5 million, 86,000-square-foot expansion that could add more workers to its 650-strong workforce.
It’s the company’s seventh expansion since it was founded 15 years ago.
“We’ve already added 110 workers this year and two production lines, and with this expansion we have the capacity to add three more lines,” said Joey Tarrant, the company’s vice president of operations.
Tarrant said he couldn’t predict how many more employees would be added or when, but said when business warrants it, the company will do so.
Founded in 1997, H.M. Richards got its start in Saltillo and moved to its current location in the Harry A. Martin North Lee Industrial Complex two years later.
The new addition, expected to be complete early next year, will serve primarily as a finished goods warehouse.
“As we added those two production lines, we needed more warehousing space,” Tarrant said.
Once complete, H.M. Richards’ footprint in the industrial park will expand to 816,000 square feet.
The company had to expand due to increased demand, and Tarrant said he hopes the trend continues. Signs of improvement in the housing industry portend better business for the furniture industry, which follows housing closely. As more homes are built and sold, more furniture is needed.
And Tarrant said retailers are looking more toward domestic makers, and companies like H.M. Richards are in position to meet their needs.
“Furniture is so funny with China and its imports, but we’re seeing more demand for American-made furniture,” he said. “It’s a big change from five years ago.”
H.M. Richards also builds to order – it doesn’t build furniture hoping for customers. Every piece of furniture sitting in its warehouse has been sold, and turnaround on orders is 21 days.
The company goes after the top 100 largest retailers in the country, selecting a handful of retailers in each region to avoid over-saturation of its products. It also adds a bit of exclusivity to its furniture, which is sold at a higher price point than the traditionally promotional furniture built in Northeast Mississippi.
“We partner closely with our retailers, and they do the same with us,” Tarrant said.
Business is up 30 percent in the past year, he added.
“They are a savvy business,” said David Rumbarger, president and CEO of the Community Development Foundation. “They’ve got a very good business strategy, they work hard for their business, their furniture is designed well. … and they have a strong workforce and management team that’s been key to their success.”