Luxury leather upholstery producer Bradington-Young has begun production at its newly expanded factory in Hickory, NC, — a move that has boosted production capacity by 50 percent and streamlined its manufacturing workflow, allowing the custom-order specialist to ship virtually all orders in 45 days or less.
The project, which nearly doubled the size of the building to 160,000 square feet, also brought Bradington-Young’s corporate offices and product development teams into the same location as the factory, improving workflow for new product development projects and streamlining communications among various departments.
“Our ability to ship domestically produced, custom luxury upholstery in four to six weeks sets us apart from the imports, which are limited in their customization options” says Craig Young, President of Bradington-Young. “Consumers have come to expect custom products to be delivered quickly, and with all the recent talk about tariffs and trade wars, the demand for U.S.-made custom upholstery continues to grow in popularity.”
Factory improvements included larger, more ergonomically friendly workstations, better lighting, and an improved cooling system — all of which have received universal praise from employees.
“Product quality and employee morale improved right out of the gate, and our employees feel like it’s a better place to work now,” says Cheryl Sigmon, Director of Merchandising at Bradington-Young. “They know we are in this for the long haul because of the investment we made have made and we see it as an investment not only in the company, but in our people.”
Sigmon said employees also appreciate seeing company management in the factory every day — something that was not possible prior to the expansion because the corporate and product development offices were at a different site across town.
“When you work in a factory, a lot of times you don’t get the opportunity to interact with management that often. But our leadership team enjoys being able to walk out in the factory on a daily basis,” says Sigmon. “We can see how everyone takes pride in their work, and it’s very rewarding.”
The expansion also has allowed Bradington-Young to ramp up its cross-training program for factory workers. That encourages employees to develop more than one job skill in the factory, which can help the company address the shortage of skilled labor in the area and facilitate transfers to other work areas as needed.
“We cross-train a lot, and because of the labor shortage, particularly in upholstered furniture manufacturing, this is an important initiative for us,” says Young. “The expanded plant presents a great opportunity to create more flexibility in our employee skills, which ultimately will continue to improve workflow.”