Vaughan-Bassett announces major expansion

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By April Wright, Reporter

Vaughan-Bassett Furniture Co. is planning to complete a $1 million, four-phase expansion of the plant by the end of the year, which will allow the company to enhance its efficiency and add new jobs, Wyatt Bassett, president and CEO, announced on Tuesday to a group of workers and local and state officials.

Vaughan-Bassett employs 650 at its Galax plant, and 50 at its Elkin, N.C., plant.

The largest and most expensive phase of the expansion is a new 16,000-square-foot building that will be attached to the shipping facility near Railroad Avenue and Grayson Street, said Bassett. This building will be used to store bed rails and mirrors and for the staging of shipments from the shipping facility.

By the end of this year, Vaughan-Bassett will be the largest wooden bedroom furniture manufacturer in the United States.

Wyatt Bassett thanked employees for a job well done in May. Last month, “employees not only met production goal, but set an all-time record at the Galax plant.” He told workers that they can soon expect a production bonus check.

In May, orders were up by 12 percent. Vaughan-Bassett recorded more than $9 million in furniture sales, including more than $7.5 million at the Galax plant alone — a record for a single month.

“We have never produced over $7 million in a single month,” said Doug Bassett, Vaughan-Bassett’s executive vice president and COO. “That is partly due to the overall economy improving slightly and success with the Appalachian Hardwood Collection.”

Last year, the company had more than $85 million in total sales.

Vaughan-Bassett broke ground for the expansion in May and expects to complete this building by December, said Wyatt Bassett.

Clark Brothers Co. of Stuart will construct the facility.

“For the past couple of months, we have been re-laying out a part of the plant,” said Wyatt Bassett. “In addition to adding more state-of-the-art equipment, we relocated a lot of existing equipment to create room and improve efficiency.”

Since last year, the company has invested $6 million in the Galax plant to improve efficiency.

As part of the four phases, Vaughan-Bassett has relocated two bed lines from the machine room to the pack room; relocated two administrative offices and a bathroom to open up a fork lift aisle to move parts from the machine room to the new bed lines; and, by July, will reorganize machinery within the machine room by utilizing the 8,000 square feet opened up by moving the bed lines.

Wyatt Bassett said this latest expansion is needed because of the success of Vaughan-Bassett’s new $3 million Weinig rough end system, which was installed in July 2009. The rough end system allowed the company to increase the amount of lumber that is cut each day and the amount of parts.

This growth has led to 60 new jobs in the Galax factory since spring of 2009.

“We need the additional space to create room for the jobs we intend to add in coming months and years,” Wyatt Bassett said.

Doug Bassett did not disclose an exact number of jobs that would be created as a result of the expansion, but said the company has added new jobs every quarter as needed and is now in the process of hiring now.

Congressman Rick Boucher, who attended the announcement Tuesday, was instrumental in making the expansion possible, said Doug Bassett. “Rick Boucher is the American furniture worker’s best friend in Washington. He stood with us when we fought illegal dumping by China, and he helped pass an accelerated depreciation provision that helped make our new rough end possible.”

“The employees here today provide proof that America’s workforce can compete with any nation in the world,” Boucher told the gathering.

Boucher noted that years ago, Vaughan-Bassett began acquiring computer-aided equipment, which has made the company one of the most efficient in the industry nationwide.

“My highest priority in representing Southwest Virginia in Congress is strengthening our region’s economy by creating new jobs for our region and protecting its existing jobs,” said Boucher. “Vaughan-Bassett has been able to create over 50 new jobs, and the expansion announced today will provide further opportunities for the company to expand its operations. I want to congratulate all here today for the long-standing, high-quality hard work that enabled this expansion.”

The company was founded in 1919.

More than 97 percent of everything sold by Vaughan-Bassett is made by American craftsmen working in Vaughan-Bassett factories.