Furniture industry can absorb some of Lane’s 480 layoffs

lane-furniture-logoBy Dennis Seid

Daily Journal

Some furniture companies in Northeast Mississippi said they’re able to offer jobs to some of the Lane Furniture Industry workers who will be losing theirs in the next few weeks.

On Wednesday, Heritage Home Group, the parent of Lane, announced a company-wide restructuring that would lead to 480 layoffs at Lane’s Saltillo plant by March 21.

In addition, two Thomasville plants in North Carolina also would be shuttered, laying off another 84.

Heritage indicated that they would not be offered jobs elsewhere.

But some furniture manufacturers in the region said they’re looking for people willing to work.

For example, United Furniture already employs a combined 1,500 workers at its two plants in Okolona, one in Amory and another in Nettleton.

“I can hire 100 people between all four plants right now,” said Doug Hanby, United’s chief financial officer. “They can apply at any of the plants directly.”

Another manufacturer, Affordable Furniture near Houlka, added two production lines at the start of the year.

“We just started the second one on Monday,” said company CEO Jim Sneed. “We’ve done most of the hiring, but applications are always welcome.”

Affordable employs about 325.

In Baldwyn, Southern Motion has added another cell – its term for a production line – and is hiring as well.

On Thursday, several people were applying for positions at the plant. Among them was a Lane employee from Saltillo who didn’t want to be identified.

“It’s hard, but we’re going to pull through,” he said.

Rick Conaway, the plant supervisor at Southern Motion’s plant, said most have already been hired for the new cell, but said the company’s Pontotoc campus also was hiring.

“We’ll accept all applications,” he said. “You never know if somebody isn’t the right fit for us, or vice versa – we might not be the right fit for them.”

Southern Motion employs about 1,000 people.

The Tupelo-based Community Development Foundation said it also was on the lookout for jobs.

“CDF’s focus is to create new opportunities for Lane’s displaced workers, transitioning them into re-employment,” a spokesperson said. “We are working with several companies and anticipate employment opportunities for these workers in the near future.”

The Lane layoff will be the biggest in Lee County since 2006, when the last 400 workers at Berkline/Benchcraft were let go.

dennis.seid@journalinc.com