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Sudden Shutdown Shakes Luxury Furniture Maker: Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams

In a shocking turn of events, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, a prominent high-end furniture manufacturer based in North Carolina, abruptly closed its doors last weekend after more than 30 years in the industry. This unexpected shutdown left hundreds of employees jobless, with little warning or explanation.

Unforeseen Closure

On Saturday, employees arriving at the company’s main plant in Taylorsville were met with signs on the gates and office doors, delivering the grim message that the company could no longer sustain its operations. The notice stated, “Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams has recently and unexpectedly learned that we are unable to continue business operations,” instructing workers not to report to work on Monday.

WARN Act Violation

Under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, companies are obligated to provide a 60-day notice before plant closures or mass layoffs. However, the interim CEO, Chris Moye, issued a WARN notice to the state’s Commerce Department just days before the shutdown, notifying them that approximately 533 workers would be permanently laid off within two weeks.

Moye cited the challenging economic climate in the U.S. furniture industry as a primary factor. He also mentioned the company’s inability to secure crucial financing to sustain operations.

Co-Founder’s Heartbreak

Founded in 1989 by Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams, the company had a significant presence in the luxury furniture market. However, Williams retired in 2019, and Gold remained uninvolved until April of this year when he returned to assist Moye as the new CEO. Gold expressed deep sorrow and frustration, saying, “I feel just horrible for my employees, who have been such great employees for so many years.”

Private Equity Firm’s Statement

The Stephens Group, an Arkansas-based private equity firm that became the majority shareholder in 2014, released a statement regarding the closure. They emphasized their support for portfolio companies but stated that the outcome was not entirely within their control. The firm had recently invested $20 million in restructuring Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, but the company’s lender withdrew its support shortly after, forcing the shutdown.

Industry in Turmoil

Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams was not the only casualty in the furniture industry. The entire sector had been struggling since the pandemic-induced sales boom tapered off 18 months ago. Similar abrupt closures were reported from other furniture businesses, including Klausser and United Furniture, which laid off nearly its entire workforce before Thanksgiving last year.

Legal Action

Employees affected by the sudden closure are seeking recompense. A former upholstery inspection worker filed a lawsuit on behalf of herself and approximately 700 other employees, alleging that the company violated the WARN Act. The plaintiffs are pursuing 60 days’ worth of unpaid wages and benefits.

Uncertain Future

As the luxury furniture industry grapples with uncertainty, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams’ closure sends shockwaves through the sector. While the company’s founders and employees deal with the aftermath, questions about the broader challenges facing the industry remain unanswered.

This sudden and unexpected shutdown serves as a stark reminder of the fragility of even well-established businesses in the face of economic turmoil, leaving many to wonder about the fate of other companies in this ever-evolving landscape.

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