Company also has an extensive network of more than 25 stores around the country, as well as retail outlets and virtual design destinations
TAYLORSVILLE, N.C. — Saturday’s abrupt closing of the Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams factory here leaves a void in the marketplace not only in custom upholstery but also in case goods and outdoor furniture it supplied to its network of high-end retail stores the company had across the country.
Dating back to 1989, the company started with a team of 23 people, which has grown to more than 800, which includes workers in its nearly 1-million-square-foot factory in Taylorsville along with other associates working in an extensive network of retail stores around the country and overseas according to its website.
A WARN Act Notice the company submitted to the state of North Carolina and obtained by Home News Now said that the closing will impact 533 workers in North Carolina alone. This includes 440 at its main plant in Taylorsville, North Carolina, along with 47 at its Statesville site and 46 that work at its Hiddenite site. All are being permanently laid off.
“This has been an extremely difficult decision, as it means the loss of many dedicated and valued employees,” Chris Moye, interim chief executive officer, said in the notice. “Thus any assistance that you can provide in helping us to place our employees in new work would be greatly appreciated.”
Moye said that the North Carolina layoffs started taking effect Aug. 26, or within 14 days of that date.
According to its website, the brand also has 27 Signature Store locations in the U.S. as well as San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Toronto. An additional seven outlet stores are located in North Carolina, New York, California, Texas and Florida.
Many of these are in exclusive, high-rent metro markets such as New York, Washington, D.C., Beverly Hills, Dallas, Houston and Boston, to name several. Some have speculated that alone has created extremely high cost pressures on the company.
In addition, the company runs nearly 40 virtual stores that connect clients with designers in local markets around the country, offering the company an expanded presence in major metro areas in California, Florida and Texas, plus many other states.
Company principal Mitchell Gold was not immediately available for comment for this story, so it was unknown to what degree the retail segment will be impacted. Moye also was not available for comment for this story.
However, calls to several of those retailers over the weekend and on Monday went unanswered, with a number of stores saying their voice mailboxes were full and could not accept messages. Messages left with others have gone unanswered.
This leaves wide speculation about the entire company’s apparent demise, which has been rumored over the past several months, as it has been said to be taking millions of dollars in orders for custom products to keep the business running in hopes of a turnaround.
This past April, the company announced it hired turnaround specialist Chris Moye as interim chief executive officer, filling a role previously held by Allison O’Connor, who stepped down the previous month to spend more time with family and to pursue other personal interests.
Moye came to the company with an impressive background, having been interim chief executive officer and executive in residence at Warburg Pincus, chief executive officer at Crossmark, vice president and senior partner of digital transformation at IBM and chief transformation officer at McKinsey & Co., to name several key roles.
“I am proud to step into my new role at Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, a beloved American heritage brand that has experienced tremendous growth and change throughout its nearly 35 years in business,” he said at the time of his appointment. “I see significant opportunity for the brand, building on its impeccably designed furniture and premium design experience, and delivering quality pieces that are consistently on time. With my background in driving the transformation of legacy brands, I look forward to advancing our operational processes to meet our customers and trade members’ growing needs and providing them with a level of service they previously experienced from us.”
It was Moye who communicated the closing to Taylorsville employees on Saturday in a letter obtained by Home News Now. He sent the letter under the guise of the WARN Act, which typically requires 60 days’ notice of any mass layoff. This gives workers time to begin preparing their transition to new jobs, while staying on a company’s payroll.
Stating that the closing was due to the company’s inability to secure critical funding to continue running the operation, Moye said the company needed to begin winding down operations and terminating employment of its employees starting Aug. 26. However, it went on to state, “Your position will be impacted by these events and your last day of employment is expected to be Oct. 25, 2023, unless you are asked to perform additional services during the 14-day period from that date.”
Efforts to contact Moye at the company headquarters on Sunday also were unsuccessful, so it was unclear what path the company will pursue moving forward both in terms of paying employees during the transition and serving customers with outstanding orders.
Those customers have increasingly come to rely on a brand that has built an extensive line of custom upholstery and wood furniture over the years, making it a household name among designers and their clients, many of whom have come to know the company through its significant retail presence.
In the living room category, the company offered a wide mix of sofas, sectionals, accent chairs, swivel chairs, sofa-sleepers, ottomans, benches, loveseats and lounges. Some of these custom pieces were available in more than 300 fabrics as well as multiple wood finishes for legs and in some cases, custom sizes. Even those not available in all fabrics and/or leathers offered up to a dozen or so options, as illustrated on the company’ website.
In addition to residential furniture, the company has also designed products on the hospitality side of the business including hotels, restaurants and other public spaces.
The company’s wood product line also was quite extensive, featuring product across the dining, bedroom, occasional and accent furniture and home office segments. Featuring a wide mix of materials including those sourced overseas, this part of the line was also customizable, offering multiple finishes.
In addition, the company offered a line of outdoor furniture, rugs and lighting, making it a whole-home destination.