The sudden overnight closure of United Furniture Industries (UFI), which operates under the Lane Furniture brand, shocked its Carolina Triad and Mississippi workers and truck drivers still on the road when the Board of Directors announced all employees were terminated. Emails and text messages rang out the bad news just before midnight Monday, Nov. 21.
Closure surprised many as sudden decision came without warning
Local media outlet WXII 12 News received a copy of the two letters sent from company officials. The first one was sent at 11:49 p.m. Monday, Nov. 21 and simply said: “We ask that all employees not report to their work locations tomorrow November 22, 2022.”
Another email was sent to all United Furniture Industries teammates and department leaders at 12:42 a.m. early Tuesday morning. The immediate termination applies to all employees with the exception of “over-the-road drivers that are out on delivery,” the memo said.
“Your layoff from the Company is expected to be permanent and all benefits will be terminated immediately without provision of COBRA.”
Truckers asked to return immediately, “do not deliver” order given
According to the memo, over-the-road drivers that are out on delivery will be paid for the balance of the week.
“Whether or not you have completed your delivery, please immediately return equipment, inventory, and delivery documents for those deliveries that have been completed to one of the following locations: Winston-Salem, NC, Verona, MS, or Victorville, CA location. To be clear, do not complete any additional deliveries.”
The company ended the memo regretting the “difficult and unexpected situation.”
It’s unknown the exact number of employees impacted by the sudden closure. SAFER.gov lists UFI as having 42 drivers operating 40 power units.
UFI’s recent troubles started back in June
It has been a rough year for furniture, as inflation and rising interest rates did nothing to lessen the inventory glut in the home goods industry and in general merchandise altogether. UFI had a massive C-suite shakeup back in June, when it replaced its CEO, CFO and executive vice president of sales.
The board of directors named former Standard Furniture president Todd Evans as CEO. The company restructured its sales organization and named Ruff Thomas, President of sales for Lane’s domestic division and Kevin News named to the role of president of sales for Lane’s import division.
One month later, the company laid off 300 of its employees and closed or repurposed several facilities. This included completely closing its metal stamping facility in High Point, North Carolina, changing a manufacturing factory in Amory, Mississippi, to a warehousing facility, and adapting a Winston-Salem, North Carolina, factory into an East Coast distribution center.
This is a developing situation and Back The Truck Up and FreightWaves are working to gather more information on the sudden closure.
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