Last updated: July 15. 2014 11:50AM - 3645 Views
Vanguard Furniture to establish first Va. household furniture upholstery production operation

Photos by Allen Worrell/The Carroll NewsMary Rae Carter presents a Virginia flag that flew over the State Capitol Building to Vanguard Furniture CEO John Bray on Tuesday.
Photos by Allen Worrell/The Carroll NewsMary Rae Carter presents a Virginia flag that flew over the State Capitol Building to Vanguard Furniture CEO John Bray on Tuesday.
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Vanguard Furniture, a high-end upholstery producer, will invest $550,000 to establish its first Virginia household furniture upholstery production operation in Carroll County. The project, announced Tuesday by the Carroll County Board of Supervisors, will create over 200 new jobs, and will begin operations in August.

“We welcome Vanguard Furniture to the roster of impressive companies that have expanded into Virginia. Vanguard is able to take advantage of an available facility that will allow a quick start-up to production, and Southwest Virginia offers an abundant workforce with a skillset in the furniture industry,” Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe said in a press release Tuesday. “Carroll County has gone to great lengths to meet the company’s needs and ensure that the Carroll County Industrial Park site will be home to Vanguard’s first Virginia operation. We look forward to the company’s future success in the Commonwealth.”

Vanguard Furniture, a family held company, employs 500 associates and is currently operating out of five manufacturing buildings in Conover, North Carolina, and a 40,000-square-foot showroom in High Point, N.C. The company offers a broad selection of high-end upholstery and casegoods. The addition of more than 200 employees in Carroll County will enhance the total ability of the company to fill orders for the world market. Vanguard officials said Tuesday that average wages for its employees in Carroll County would range from $16-$25 an hour, with salaries averaging between $42,000 and $45,000 per year.

“Carroll County is a great fit for Vanguard Furniture’s first Virginia household furniture upholstery production operation,” said Maurice Jones, Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade. “Southwest Virginia has a rich history in the furniture industry, and the addition of over 200 new jobs paying above the average prevailing wage is significant news for a region that continues to rebound economically.”

Vanguard Furniture is moving into the former Parkdale Building in the Carroll County Industrial Park with 116,000 square feet of space. The Carroll County IDA has purchased the building from Parkdale and now the IDA has a lease with Vanguard Furniture, which will be the first out-of-state expansion for the N.C. company.

Vanguard Furniture will employ over 200 people within five years of operation and plans to work closely with the Workforce Investment Board and Community College System to create a VA training program for the company.

Bray said the company would bring about 20 employees from the Mount Airy, N.C. area. He expected the facility to employ 50 to begin with before maxing out in the 200 employee range within three to five years.

Vanguard Furniture has developed programs for their employees such as a promotion of wellness and investment counseling with a very positive benefit package that it will bring to its new Carroll County operation. Vanguard will also be a Carroll County Natural Gas customer.

“Our company has experienced unprecedented growth over the last few years, and we feel the need to expand our operations,” said Andy Bray, President of Vanguard Furniture. “The communities surrounding our new facility in Carroll County, like Galax and Mt. Airy, North Carolina, have proud traditions of manufacturing quality upholstered furniture. We anticipate our new facility will attract some of the finest craftsmen in this area.”

Vanguard Furniture is a “retro-project” in that the Carroll, Galax, Grayson region has a long heritage in Furniture craftsmanship that will be given a new lease on life. Local officials stressed this operation will allow area citizens an outlet for their abilities that will be showcased around the world.

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) worked with Carroll County, the Carroll County Industrial Development Authority, and Virginia’s aCorridor to help secure the project for Virginia. Funding and services to support the company’s employee training activities will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.

“Today is a great day in Carroll County to have secured more than 200 new jobs for our citizens in an economic sector that is a natural fit,” said David Hutchins, Chairman of the Carroll County Board of Supervisors. “This project would not have been able to have been carried out without the coordination and assistance of many groups and individuals such as the Carroll County Industrial Development Authority. Vanguard Furniture is a forward-thinking company with exceptional benefits that will certainly add to Carroll County and the region as a whole.”

Slate remembered

Hutchins called Tuesday a bittersweet day. One of the men who was vital in bringing industry like Vanguard to the area, Carroll County Industrial Development Authority Chairman Richard Slate passed away on Saturday. A moment of silence was held in his honor during the ceremony and an empty chair was placed at the front of the room in front of his picture and a candle lit in his honor.

“Today is bittersweet for me and many of us here. It is sweet in the fact that we have a great announcement and a great company that is coming. It is bitter in that one of our seats is empty,” Hutchins said. “Those of you who knew Mr. Richard Slate would know he was an individual who never stopped, knew almost no boundaries. He was an out-of-the-box thinker before we even knew there was a box. He thought of ways to make Carroll County and the region a better place. That part of it is very sad, but I think today as we go through our program we need to keep in mind we are missing one of those.”

Mary Rae Carter, Special Advisor for Rural Partnerships to the Virginia Secretary of Commerce & Trade, also expressed sadness over the loss of Slate.

“I do agree this is a bittersweet announcement having lost Mr. Slate, but I can tell you it was always a pleasure to see him when I came here,” Carter said. “I can tell you he did an awful lot for this community and I would say to him if he were here, just like I said to the IDA and the Board of Supervisors, ‘Could you just slow down? It is really keeping me busy.’ I am sure he would really appreciate that.”

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