Bernhardt to reopen NC upholstery factory

Jul. 02, 2013 @ 02:25 PM

Officials with Bernhardt Inc. confirmed to The Star newspaper that Plant 9 on East Grover Street in Shelby will reopen as early as mid-July.

A sign outside the old, closed brick manufacturing building reads “We’re back.”

A steady stream of people visited the plant Friday, where another sign on the front door told them to return at 8 a.m. Monday to fill out applications.

Gregg and Teresa Greene were among those who visited the site Friday. The Greenes said they worked as upholstery cloth cutters at Bernardt Plant 9 from 2005 to 2009, when the furniture site closed its doors.

“We’re ecstatic,” Gregg Greene said about the opportunity to return to Bernhardt.

“It feels like we’re coming home,” his wife Teresa said.

The Greenes said they live in Rutherford County and currently drive to Burke County for cloth-cutting jobs.

Workers from the Lenoir Bernhardt plant were inside Friday, preparing the site for its return to manufacturing products. They said the plant plans to reopen in several weeks.

Bernhardt Inc. currently employs about 1,000 people at seven facilities in North Carolina and six offices in Asia. The company’s 75,000-square-foot showroom is located in High Point. Products include home and home office furniture, mid-priced seating and textiles for corporate offices and commercial items for hospitality guestrooms and suites.


When did the Shelby plant open?

The East Grover Street plant in Shelby opened in the early 1970s in the former Hudson Hosiery building, according to previous Star reports.


What was made at the plant?

Upholstered sofas and chairs for homes, including designer lines such as Martha Stewart.


Why did the plant close?

Poor economic and furniture market conditions led to the plant’s closure in June 2009. It was “a direct result of lack of consumer confidence,” William Howard, vice president of human resources for the Lenoir-based company, told The Star in April 2009.

When it closed, it was one of only two remaining upholstery plants in the company, in addition to one in Lenoir. Production work was consolidated to the Lenoir plant.


How many jobs did that affect?

The Shelby plant had a workforce of more than 100 jobs at the time of its closure.