Bernhardt Furniture announces expansion

Jan. 12, 2014 @ 08:43 AM

Bernhardt Furniture Co. plans to expand operations in Caldwell County and put a vacant building in Cajah’s Mountain into use.

The 250,000-square-foot Plant 4 building, on Connelly Springs Road north of Cajah’s Mountain Town Hall, will become the new home of the table product lines now made at Plant 3 in Lenoir and Swivel Task and multi-purpose seating products now made at Plant 7 in Lenoir, company president Alex Bernhardt Jr. and chief operating officer Rountree Collett announced late Friday.

“During the past few years, these two product lines have enjoyed rapidly growing customer demand,” they said in a statement. “This expansion into the Plant 4 facility will allow us to further increase our capacity levels” for those products and also the products remaining at Plants 3 and 7.

Within 90 days, the company will begin to transfer employees to Plant 4. About 50 will transfer by the middle of the year. About 10 new jobs will be created initially, with more expected later, the company said.

Plant 4 once housed the company’s Residential Casegoods division and was where its Martha Stewart products were made, but it has been vacant for several years and until recently had a For Sale sign in front.

The move into Plant 4 will proceed in phases, said William Howard, vice president for human resources.

“We’ve got to order some pretty expensive and heavy equipment from Europe,” he said, and how quickly that can be done will determine the overall timetable.

Howard declined to say how much the company is investing in this expansion.

The company considered several of its buildings in Caldwell County for this operation but didn’t look outside the county, Howard said.

“It made more sense, certainly, to concentrate our efforts in Caldwell County because that’s where our folks live,” he said.

The company employs about 1,200 people at eight facilities, but only one plant – in Shelby, employing about 90 people – is outside Caldwell County. The Shelby plant, part of the Residential Upholstery Division, was just reopened last summer due to increased customer demand.