By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
PONTOTOC – In August, Southern Motion was breaking ground on a $7 million expansion it had hoped to move into later this month.
But the company was able to move in sooner than expected, and in the process has accelerated its hiring.
Officials last summer said they wanted to hire 200 employees within two years. But by Jan. 17, Southern Motion will have hired more than half that many, all since December.
“It was sooner than expected but not sooner than we needed,” said Guy Lipscomb, the company’s co-founder and chairman. “Jesco had scheduled us to move in in late January, but they did a magnificent job getting it ready.”
And as Lipscomb alluded, not a moment too soon.
The company, which makes reclining furniture, was bursting at the seams at its 400,000-square-foot main facility, and its other divisions were running out of elbow room, too.
“We’re going from 9 1/2 production lines to 11,” Lipscomb said.
In addition, the company has been working overtime – 44- and 52-hour weeks – to keep up with demand.
“It’s a great problem to have,” Lipscomb said. “I’m not going to complain.”
The expanded facility actually isn’t manned by the new employees, who are working in the main plant. Instead, some of the more experienced veterans are cranking out furniture in the new addition.
Among them is Cheryl Walls, a quality inspector who’s been with the company for eight years.
“It’s a very good place to work,” she said. “It’s the best company I’ve worked for, and I’ve been in the furniture industry for 23 years. The lighting in the new building is great. In my job, I have to look for any flaws, and it’s made it easier.”
Soon, she’ll be joined my more workers as another production line gets rolling.
Lipscomb said that’s a result of not only higher demand for Southern Motion furniture, but a general pickup in business overall.
“I feel like things are getting better,” he said. “And it’s not just locally, it’s other places I’ve visited across the country. People are feeling better. A year ago, I think the other 90 percent of the people who had jobs were fearful of losing them and were holding on tight. Now I see consumer confidence that’s higher and they’re spending more.”
Southern Motion was founded in 1996 by Lipscomb and Larry Todd. The company makes recliners, sofas, love seats, sectionals and home theater furniture.
The company has been growing at a rapid pace, and will have more than 800 employees by the end of the month.
In early 2010, the company added 70 jobs. And in early 2009, another expansion added 65 jobs, along with new production lines and equipment.