Letter: Story, editorial on Kincaid were inaccurate

Apr. 23, 2014 @ 01:22 AM

To the editor:

I am writing in response to your editorial printed in the April 20, 2014, edition and to Mr. Kim Gilliland’s article from April 20, 2014.

The headline on the front-page article refers to the “closing” of Kincaid Furniture, and the headline on your website indicates the “End of Kincaid Furniture.” As our press release, dated April 16, 2014, states, we will be “transitioning” the Hudson facilities to warehousing, repairs, and finishing as we exit our North Wilkesboro operations. I assume your paper felt these headlines would attract more readers because you finally state in paragraph four of the articles that we are in fact not closing.

Mr. Gilliland contacted the owner of a local convenience store, the owner of a local restaurant and a Kincaid Furniture employee who admitted that he was not present at the meeting when we announced and explained the total restructuring plan for La-Z-Boy Casegoods. You chose to print the comments of the employee, which were basically inaccurate, without checking your source or the information. One would have thought that you or your staff would have reached out to someone at our Company for a clarification of these comments before printing this article.

It is true that we will be ceasing casegoods production this fall. As I personally told our employees, over the past ten years we have tried numerous product categories and strategies, but we have not been successful at generating enough sales volume for our large-scale operation to obtain profitability. We informed the employees that while our need for manufacturing positions will cease, there will be a limited number of opportunities for employment as we convert to a finishing, repair, and distribution center. We also discussed the need we have for additional employees at our Taylorsville upholstery plant. Additionally, we told the group that we would be working closely with the EDC to assist in finding job opportunities for the displaced employees.

Your editorial fails to make the distinction that exists between the dynamics of upholstered furniture and casegoods. Generally, most upholstery manufacturers are prospering, as these items are replaced more often and not as subjected to import competition. However, most domestic casegoods manufacturers have not been successful competing with Asian companies because of the lower wages associated with the Asian companies, which accounts for the fact that over 75% of all wood furniture sold in the United States is imported. Your readers should also know that Kincaid Furniture and Lea Industries were two of just 30 domestic manufacturers who petitioned the U.S. government for antidumping duties on Chinese bedroom furniture. While we were successful with the petition, the assigned antidumping rates were not high enough to slow the flow of imported casegoods.

In addition, you state “in 1999 that La-Z-Boy sowed the seeds of its doom when it bought Greensboro based LADD Furniture for nearly $198 million”. If you had checked the public records for La-Z-Boy Incorporated you would have found that the company has had impressive growth and profits, and basically no debt. Additionally, we have over 7,000 full-time equivalent employees across the United States, which would definitely not classify La-Z-Boy as “doomed.”

In your editorial you go on to state that, “A year from now, Kincaid will be entirely a fiction, an American-Scottish family name stamped on a Chinese piece of wood, bought and sold by people who don’t care where any of it came from.” I would guess that the hundreds of dedicated employees who will continue to design, market, sell and service the largest collection of solid wood furniture in the industry and those that will be manufacturing our upholstery products in nearby Taylorsville, NC, along with our loyal network of furniture retailers across America would disagree with you.

My family founded Kincaid Furniture 68 years ago. Over this entire period, we have valued our employees above all else. We have and will continue to be a supporter of Hudson and Caldwell County. We seriously regret the type of reporting and tone of Mr. Gilliland’s article and your editorial. Our Company has a long and proud heritage, and looks forward to a great future.

Steve Kincaid

President, La-Z-Boy Casegoods