With all the ups and downs in the office furniture industry over the past few years, it’s no wonder some manufacturers are suffering from a case of “empty office chair syndrome”. Haworth, Inc. is the latest company to announce a plant closure. A components manufacturing facility in Douglas, MI is being phased out and production will be shifted to the Holland Steel Components plant. Since Haworth is a privately owned, family business, the step of laying off workers is likely to be especially painful. Several hundred employees are being offered voluntary severance packages to help tide them over (along with unemployment benefits) until they can find work.
Other recent office furniture industry layoffs/buyouts include Steelcase in 2011. The company took the highly controversial step of moving some production capacity to Mexico. Almost 750 workers were affected due to the closure of 3 plants (Kentwood Michigan, Texas and Canada). Knoll had its own restructuring event in 2010 (also in Kentwood Michigan) that impacted more than 65 workers. The biggest recent downsizing was in 2009 when Herman Miller cut 1000 jobs due to a substantial drop in order rates. Hopefully, more jobs will be created in the office furniture industry as sales continue to recover.