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Sunday, June 16, 2024

HNI closing Hickory furniture factory, 221 workers losing jobs

Iowa-based HNI Workplace Furnishings plans to close its manufacturing facility in Hickory in April 2025, which will result in its 221 employees losing their jobs, the company announced.

Layoffs will begin Oct. 13. HNI will offer employees incentives to stay until the exit date, according to the company.

“Closing a facility is a difficult decision and is not a reflection on the hard work and effort of the Hickory operations team. We are grateful for their dedication and will work to assist them through this transition,” said HNI CEO Jeff Lorenger in a statement on the company website.

“This is a strategic decision to optimize our operational footprint and improve business performance,” he added. “We are announcing this several months in advance as part of our commitment to make the transition as smooth as possible.”

HNI acquired HBF (Hickory Business Furniture) in 2008 and the manufacturing facility came along as part of that acquisition. HBF manufactured office furniture at the site before, and continued to do so after the acquisition.

HNI will consolidate production at its other North American facilities, according to the release. HNI estimates the consolidation will save approximately $11 million annually beginning in 2026. Savings realized in 2025 are expected to be $8 million to $9 million, according to the company.

HNI will maintain a commercial presence in Hickory with its HBF brand of workplace furnishings and textile products. HBF’s brand headquarters will remain in Hickory as will its marketing, customer experience, product development, and product engineering employees. Those duties will be done by approximately 25 HNI workers that will remain in Hickory.

HNI employees are not a part of a union and bumping rights do not exist. The company has other office furniture manufacturing facilities in Iowa, Georgia, New York and Indiana. The company has approximately 8,000 employees.

Moving Hickory production to other HNI manufacturing centers was partially enabled by its acquisition of Indiana-based Kimball International in June 2023, the company stated in its release.

Total cost synergies associated with the integration of Kimball now total about $50 million, which includes $35 million created with the initial acquisition, $11 million with the consolidation of Hickory operations and approximately $4 million of new cost synergies related to procurement efforts, according to HNI.

In fiscal 2023, HNI had net sales of $2.4 billion, of which $1.7 billion or 71% was attributed to its workplace furnishings segment and $700 million, or 29%, to its residential building products. It has reported earnings growth of greater than 20% for two consecutive years.

 

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