Harden Furniture resumes limited production

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MCCONNELLSVILLE, N.Y. – Upper end case goods and upholstery manufacturer Harden Furniture has recently restarted production to fill remaining open orders. However, the fate of the 174-year-old manufacturer remains uncertain once those orders are filled over the next month and a half.

Greg Harden, a former CEO and fifth-generation family executive, told Furniture Today the company resumed manufacturing July 9, following a suspension of production that occurred around May 29.

While Harden no longer holds an executive position with the company, he still owns the real estate, including the company’s New York production facilities.

To resume production, he brought back roughly 30 workers in order to fill as many of the open orders as possible. This is about a third of the company’s workers in place following an Article 9 auction in late January in which various company assets were sold to Big Shoulders Capital LLC. Harden Furniture suspended production for a brief period following the auction but resumed operations in early February.

According to court filings, Maverick One Leasing Company LLC, whose manager and authorized representative was listed as Walter Haskett, held the assets of the corporate entity known as Harden Furniture LLC. Harden officials said that that the shutdown occurred as Haskett was trying to work out a deal with Big Shoulders over the ownership of various assets.

Repeated attempts have been made to contact Haskett, who has declined to comment on the changes at Harden Furniture including the ceasing of manufacturing operations in late May and the laying off of administrative staff in mid-June. His company, Maverick One Leasing Company LLC, filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection June 6.

Officials at Big Shoulders Capital LLC also have not responded to repeated requests for comment. Big Shoulders is listed as an unsecured creditor in the Maverick One Leasing Company LLC bankruptcy filing, in the amount of $1.85 million.

Harden, who was let go from the company in early June, said that he hired the workers under a new corporate entity and is personally funding payroll and the cost of materials. He said there are about $1 million in orders to fill for roughly 60 accounts.

Although no new orders are being taken at this time, Harden said that he feels an obligation to help many long-time customers that are awaiting product.

“The dealers and designers have been so wonderful to me for 37 years, I just don’t want to see them unable to fulfill their contracts with their customers,” he said, noting that he has been in touch with about 100 different accounts via cell phone. “They are all rooting for us and have had wonderful and positive things to say.”

He expects that production will run through the order backlog in about a month, which should get product shipped to dealers and designers by Labor Day.

“We still have some discussions going on with other parties,” he said of the company’s future beyond that. “Unfortunately, we are in such a tough spot with Haskett owning the LLC.”

He added that he is hopeful for a positive outcome for the company, which is one of the oldest case goods and upholstery manufacturers in the country.

“There is still the opportunity for a restart of the Harden brand, but it would be new product and a new marketing strategy,” he said. “That might not be a bad thing. We have been so far behind in marketing and product development. Due to financial constraints over the past couple of years, we really didn’t introduce many new products or new fabrics.”

For example, he said, the last fabric introductions were two High Point markets ago, which can seem like an eternity for dealers and designers.

“Maybe the best thing is to sweep this clean and start from scratch,” Harden said. “That is something we will look at in the next couple of months.”

 

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