Southern Motion breaks ground on $7M expansion

PONTOTOC – In January, Guy Lipscomb hopes to be making furniture in a shiny new building.
Lipscomb, the co-founder and CEO of Southern Motion, doesn’t want to wait that long, however.
“We’re hoping for early January, but we’d like to get it open before then,” he said. “The sooner the better. We need it.”
The company, which makes reclining furniture, had run out of room at its 400,000-square-foot facility that now employs 700 workers.
Within two years, the company will add at least 200 jobs. And if business really takes off, that number could double within five years. In fact, on the 25 acres where Southern Motion is building its newest 180,000-square-foot expansion, there’s room for another exact duplicate.
“Business is very good,” Lipscomb said on Monday, as state and local leaders gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony.
“The expansion will give us more production lines and allow us to build more product,” he said.
The company first announced its plans in May. The Mississippi Development Authority provided help to Southern Motion with the Development Infrastructure Program and the Rural Impact Fund Program to help with infrastructure improvements.
Earl Gohl, the Appalachian Regional Commission’s federal co-chair, presented a symbolic check for $350,000 to Lipscomb and company president Roger Bland.

‘Truly a success story’
It’s part of some $600,000 in public money being invested in the project. Southern Motion is investing at least $4 million of its own.
“The management team they have, the people they have working here – this is truly a success story,” said Josh West, the regional economic developer for Pontotoc and Union counties.
Southern Motion was founded in 1996 by Lipscomb and Larry Todd. The company makes recliners, sofas, love seats, sectionals and home theater furniture.
Earlier this year, the company added 70 jobs. And in early 2009, another expansion added 65 jobs, along with new production lines and equipment.
“This is a home-grown, home-owned company that we can all be proud of,” said Randy Kelley, executive director of Three Rivers Planning and Development District. “It’s Mississippi-made furniture made by Mississippi workers. And when they get things up and running with this expansion, we’re talking about 900 jobs, and that’s strong.”
Pontotoc County’s employment is tied closely to the furniture industry, and keeping it as healthy as possible is critical, officials said Monday.
“You do everything you can for your existing businesses because they’re the ones who create the most jobs,” West said. “When they approached us for help, we didn’t hesitate. And they’ve done more than just hire workers. They’ve been a great corporate citizen and been very involved with the community.”
Added Kelley, “We have three furniture companies who currently employ more workers combined than Toyota or its suppliers that have announced will. That’s not a knock on Toyota, but it shows you how important furniture is to Pontotoc County and to Northeast Mississippi.”
The region accounts for nearly all of the 18,000 furniture industry jobs in the state. In Pontotoc County, Ashley Furniture, American Furniture and Southern Motion account for more than 4,000 jobs. Other smaller manufacturers, in addition to several suppliers, add another 1,000 jobs, Kelley said.

Contact Dennis Seid at (662) 678-1578 or dennis.seid@djournal.com.

Dennis Seid / Daily Journal