Tippah furniture supplier expects to add 100 jobs

BY DENNIS SEID
Daily Journal

RIPLEY – Furniture frame supplier Industrial Timber has opened in the North Ripley Industrial Park and expects to add more than 100 employees as its operations grow.

Industrial Timber, based in Hiddenite, N.C., bills itself as the largest, low-cost supplier of wood frames in the upholstered furniture industry. The company has some 340 workers in plants in Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee.

In Ripley, it has bought the former WoodCraft Frame Shop and equipment from Berkline/BenchCraft Inc., which shut down its operations there last year.

Industrial Timber will start with about 35 employees in Ripley and grow to more than 100, said company CEO Mike Ruch. He did not give a timetable for the job expansion.

“We are very thankful for the investment of their money, jobs and talents in our community, and the Tippah County citizens will reward them with quality workmanship and loyalty,” said Duane Bullard, president of the Tippah County Development Foundation.

The news is good for an industry that has had its fair share of downsizing in the region lately. In Tippah County, it's been a little better. Industrial Timber's news comes just 21-2 months after upholstered furniture maker Carolina Accents said it was adding about 125 jobs in the next few months.

With the industry facing rising costs and lower revenues, Ruch said, “we all must figure out how to significantly lower our costs and we must do it as quickly as possible.”

“We are already the market leader in frame production and have decided to continue expansion with the opening of our newest operation in Ripley,” he added. “The state-of-the-art frame plant will allow Industrial Timber to double its existing frame production in North Mississippi.”

The company already has a commitment from furniture maker Bauhaus.

Al Wygul, president of Bauhaus U.S.A. Inc., said his company “is proud to be Industrial Timber's anchor customer in its new Ripley plant. Bauhaus selected Industrial Timber to produce its frames because of the significant savings and gains achieved from its unique design and manufacturing capabilities.”

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