Marge Carson to close its doors after 75 years in business

Decision will allow company CEO Jim LaBarge to focus on health-related issues

CITY OF INDUSTRY, Calif. — Luxury, custom furniture manufacturer Marge Carson is closing its doors at the end of this month after 75 years in business.

While several entities have expressed an interest in buying the company, CEO Jim LaBarge said that personal health challenges — combined with uncertainties in the economy — have “created obstacles to a potential acquisition.”

He also said that in order to focus on his health, he has had to close the company’s Tijuana production facilities that have been producing upholstery and case goods.

He noted in a memo to customers that the closure will not allow the company to complete production of its backlog and that it will be sending out cancellations for orders it cannot fulfill.

This marks the end of a 75-year history of a company that for years was a go-to resource for custom, luxury furniture.

The company was started in 1947 by Marjorie Carson and is believed to be the only major furniture manufacturer started by an interior designer. It was later operated by her son and daughter-in-law Bob and Carol Carson.

With the exception of its ownership by Masco Corp. from 1987 to 1994, it has been primarily family owned.

CEO Jim LaBarge joined the company in 1994 from LaBarge Mirrors and purchased it from Masco in 1995. Over the last 25 years, it has expanded from its roots as a designer-oriented West Coast upholstery manufacturer to a full-line resource offering classically inspired case goods collections featuring multi-step finishes and mixed media elements such as antiqued mirrors and metal accents.

It also has grown its distribution across the U.S. and internationally and today has showrooms in Los Angeles and Dallas as well as a renovated showroom in High Point. For many years, its headquarters facility was in Pomona, California.

“It was one of the happiest days of my life, because, like LaBarge, Marge had a design-driven niche that always worked to make the finest furniture and not take shortcuts in craftsmanship to hit a price point,” LaBarge recalled of when he purchased the company.

Marge Carson also has been known for developing a style of upholstery whose “casual elegance and generous scale” is  seen in its curved wood-framed silhouettes and ample cushions with a neutral palette of rich textiles.

This came to be defined as the “California casual” look first developed by Marge Carson in the mid-to-late 20th Century, which blended with the Pacific Coast’s more relaxed way of life and spacious homes. The “California casual” style eventually spread throughout the country, influencing interior design around the world.

In 1997, the company established a Maquiladora manufacturing operation in Tijuana, Mexico. There, the company made custom upholstery, some of which features exposed wood frames that showcases the company’s expertise in custom finishes and trims it has developed over many years.

During the pandemic, the company, like most others in the industry, dealt with a host of supply chain-related issues that created historically high backlogs. As a result of these challenges, the company exited Asia and consolidated all production in Tijuana, which began to also produce wood furniture in addition to upholstery.

This also allowed the company to lower its lead times to 8-10 weeks on upholstery and beds, which compared to as many as 30 weeks for some of its competitors.

This week’s announcement also has resulted in the closing of the company’s remaining operations in the Philippines and Indonesia as well as Mexico.

“Unfortunately, in order to wind down operations for Marge in a timely manner so that I can focus on my health I have had to stop production in our Tijuana facility,” LaBarge said. “This will not allow us to complete production of our backlog, and we will be sending out cancellations for any orders we cannot fulfill. I am sincerely sorry for any issues this will cause.”

While he needs to focus on his health at this time, he said he was grateful for the level of support the company has received over the years — from its professional staff — to designers and dealers that have long purchased the line.

“Marge has been blessed with a talented and dedicated office, design staff, production, and sales family,” LaBarge said. “We grew a customer base of the best furniture stores and design firms and developed production partnerships in the Philippines and Indonesia to make custom products in sizes and finishes that met clients’ needs. When so much furniture looks alike, Marge Carson truly stands out on a retail or showroom floor with a look all its own.”

“Many of you have reached out to me with prayers, and we shared wonderful memories of times we have spent together through the years,” he added. “After 49 years in the furniture industry, I am exiting much earlier than I desired, but it has become necessary to focus on my health. I cherish all of my time in the furniture business.”

Home News Now Editor-in-Chief Thomas Russell contributed to this report.

One thought on “Marge Carson to close its doors after 75 years in business

  1. So very sorry to hear of the untimely closing of one of the best furniture manufactures in the industry.As stated, one that was driven by design ,not price point.
    Our prayers and thoughts are with you Jim.

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