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Growing demand means Klaussner needs more workers

ASHEBORO – One of the Top 50 companies in the greater Piedmont Triad, Klaussner Home Furnishings, Inc. needs to hire 200 people.
Depending upon experience, starting pay can range from $15 to $30 an hour — plus a $1,000 signing bonus and a $1,000 employee referral bonus. 
Jobs include sewers, framers and upholsterers. In particular, Klaussner needs persons with sewing experience and will offer the highest wages around for experienced sewers.
Benefits include health, dental and vision insurance, 401K, two paid vacation weeks a year and the ability to work one shift, giving employees family time. The company policy paves the way for upward mobility, making furniture manufacturing a very lucrative career. A $25 and hour job equates to a little more than $50,000/year.
Klaussner’s website, www.klaussner.com, has a list of job openings and the pay scale. 
In the 2.5 million square feet of space, local plants make upholstered goods — sofas, sleepers, loveseats, ottomans and chairs.

Corporate Philosophy

Calling himself the “blue collar CEO,” Terry McNew,  Klaussner’s president and CEO, grew up getting dirty, working on engines, cleaning floors and working with his hands. He went on to become the president and CEO of Mastercraft Boat Holdings. He took the company public and it remains on the NASDAQ stock exchange.
McNew made changes when he joined Klaussner. He increased wages by 20 percent, put employees on an hourly pay instead of being paid per piece of work, instituted safety measures, brought in automation, added jobs to accommodate the automation, cleaned up the working environment and created a career path. He has donated furniture to various non-profits and the fire departments, wanting to get involved in the community.
He said he wants to continue the Stuart Love legacy from 1963, when Klaussner was Stuart Furniture. “We care about people,” McNew said. “Working environments are kept clean and safe, very unlike manufacturing plants in the past. I invite high school and community college students to tour the plants and see what furniture manufacturing is today. This is not a dirty industry. If you work hard, you can make a good living in today’s manufacturing.”

Working Environment

Klaussner has 1,150 employees at five plants. Four are in Asheboro and the fifth in Candor. It has 15 CNC (computer numerical control) machines. Employees need to use math and science skills to operate that automated equipment. CNC machines are used to precision cut all the wood parts that make up the upholstery frames. This process gives Klaussner a competitive advantage and is just one part of making them a vertical integrated company.
Zack Chehaitli, Klaussner’s chief operations officer, explained: “Almost all of our plants run only one shift and keep overtime to absolute minimum. We feel strongly about our team spending time with their family and loved ones in the evenings and weekends. We want our team members to rest and recharge every weekend.”
The working environment is fast-paced, but as one employee said, “I love my job.”
Chehaitli added, “We provide training starting on Day 1 with trainers who have 20-35 years of experience. Training periods range between 2 weeks to 3 months depending on the job function, but hands-on training and support is provided on a daily basis regardless. Each production area has a lead person with a ratio of about 1 to 20 persons.”

Increased home and furniture sales

McNew outlined why the demand for Klaussner Home Furnishings has increased:
— Klaussner offers more than 250 styles and 500 types of fabric, including Italian leather.
— The supply chain is different from other furniture companies. Klaussner is only one a few furniture manufacturers in the US that owns its own foam-pouring operation, Prestige Fabricators. All of the wood frame parts are cut in Candor and Prestige manufactures all of its own fabric. The end result is that Klaussner is truly a vertical integrated furniture manufacturer giving them a strong advantage over its competition when it comes to “Speed To Market.” That is a concept Love created to deliver furniture to customers quickly.
— For the past five years, country music star Trisha Yearwood has had a successful license collection with Klaussner and has created her own popular designs of bedroom, living and dining room furniture that is sold worldwide.  
In 2020 and 2021, the housing market went wild with bidding wars shooting prices tens of thousands of dollars higher than the asking price. It continues to be a sellers’ market.
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics show homeowners spend around $3,000 on new furniture as they settle into their new quarters. The No. 1 item purchased tends to be a sofa. And  Klaussner specializes in mid- to high-end sofas. New homeowners typically change the style, color and feel of their furniture to match new floor plans in their new homes.
But Covid-19 changed everything. The relationship between home and furniture sales was different. One month furniture employees were laid off and then brought back two or so months later. Why?
“With travel restrictions, the home became a safe haven and people wanted to invest more in their home, which increased the demand. However, at the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, demand dropped precipitously across the furniture industry and we had to temporarily furlough/lay off 700 employees on April 1, 2020.  We began bringing those employees back to work as consumer demand began to tick back up early June 2020.”
For Klaussner, home sales account for nearly 20 percent of furniture sales. “So new home sales are important to our industry,”  McNew said. “Home sales began to pick up in the second half of 2020 and continue to do so. We expect home sales to be strong for several more years as people move to the suburbs from urban areas.”
And they will, once again, need new furniture.
Applicants can send their resume to Klaussner Home Furnishings, attention Human Resources, P.O. Box 220, Asheboro, NC 27204, email careers@klaussner.com or deliver it in person to KFI at 405 Lewellen Road, Asheboro, or 468 Industrial Road, Candor.