By Dennis Seid | NEMS Daily Journal
BALDWYN – Furniture manufacturer Southern Motion has seen its business and its employment double in the past three years, and on Monday, the company said it was expanding into Baldwyn.
Company officials said they plan to add 150 employees at the former Forefront Golf plant, with the potential to add up to 400 employees within four years, if business conditions warrant it.
“We’re going to under-promise and over-deliver,” said Southern Motion CEO Guy Lipscomb.
History suggests the company will.
The Pontotoc-based reclining furniture maker announced a $7 million, 180,000-square-foot expansion in Pontotoc in August 2010, promising 200 new jobs within two years. The company has hired 260 employees since then, including 175 in the past 12 months.
The company now employs 1,015 workers.
And, Lipscomb said, “We’re adding another 75 jobs in the next 30 days in Pontotoc.”
So why the rush to expand in Baldwyn?
Business is booming, and Southern Motion needs to get more product out to more customers.
“We worked 52 hours last week, we’re working 44 hours this week and we’re working 52 hours again next week,” Lipscomb said.
It wasn’t long after Southern Motion moved into its expanded facility that company officials realized they already were running out of room.
“We moved into it in January, then we had great shows in Vegas and Tupelo, and a great High Point on top of that,” Lipscomb said.
The nation’s three largest furniture markets are where manufacturers and buyers make deals, and Lipscomb said the orders placed at those markets kept the nearly 600,000-square- feet of manufacturing space in Pontotoc humming.
“We knew we needed more room, but we didn’t have time to build one.”
In April, Lipscomb and some business partners bought the former Forefront facility in Baldwyn at auction. The building once belonged to James Davis, the former CFO of the defunct Stanford Financial Group. The building fit perfectly into Southern Motion’s expansion plans.
“This is no longer Forefront – it’s officially Southern Motion,” Lipscomb said.
“It’s an excellent location,” he said. “It’s about 50 miles from our Pontotoc campus. … Just as we’ve built a Pontotoc campus for the company, we think we can build a Baldwyn campus.”
The company hopes to open by mid-February, with hiring expected to begin in January, if not sooner.
The 192,500-square-foot facility has room for five production cells.
Baldwyn Mayor Michael James was elated with the news of Southern Motion’s expansion.
“I hate to say it, but I didn’t know much about them, but we visited their plants in Pontotoc, and we were very impressed,” he said. “We’ve gotten to know them very well in the past few months, and we’re thankful of having the opportunity to work with such a great company.”
When Southern Motion opens in February, it will be the second major furniture manufacturer in the Baldwyn area. H.M. Richards employs 540 at its facility in the Harry A. Martin North Lee Industrial Complex. The company has been in business since 1998.
Berkline closed its doors in July 2006, laying off the last of 400 workers.
“We are truly proud to be able to continue to add American workers to our payroll while others are moving jobs to China,” said Southern Motion President Roger Bland.