Lincolnton Furniture Company closing Obama jobs - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Lincolnton company Obama credited with keeping jobs in US - shutting down

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LINCOLNTON, NC (WBTV) -

The Lincolnton Furniture Company announced Thursday that it is closing after reopening for business in 2011.

CEO Bruce Cochrane told WBTV that 50 employees would be laid off and the plant would close immediately.

News of the closing spread through the small town quickly.

WBTV caught up with Richard Zimmerman, a former employee, at a local restaurant Thursday.

"It was a community based company," he said. "And we was looking at the company growing; we were excited about it and looking forward to a good long future there."

Zimmerman was laid off in the initial round of layoffs last year.

Cochrane told WBTV by phone Thursday breaking bad news to his employees was emotional.

"We had a great place to work and people enjoyed working there," he said. "Many of the people who worked there had work for me before."

The plant is located on Cochrane Road in Lincolnton.

Cochrane spent years watching the state's furniture industry shrink as the jobs went to countries like China and Vietnam.

In 2011, he open Lincolnton Furniture in the old, shut down plant that had been vacant for 15 years.

The reopening of the plant and the hiring of the workers to make handmade, wooden furniture with a lifetime guarantee was celebrated by N.C. Gov. Bev Perdue and even The White House.

But Cochrane also acknowledge unforeseen upfitting needs slowly ate away at their startup capital.

"When you have half a million dollars worth of upfit surprises that you didn't plan for that further eats into your capital," he said.

Ultimately, Cochrane said, that made it impossible to stay in business.

But Zimmerman questioned the need for so many changes.

"Do you treat it like a full blown 100 year old company or do you treat it like a start up company," he wondered. "You know, start from the basics. Get back to the basics."

Cochrane sat in The First Lady's box for the 2012 State Of The Union Address as President Obama praised the return of American jobs.

"I want us to be known for making and selling products all over the world stamped with three proud words.. Made in America. Applause. And we can make that happen," the President said at the time.

Cochrane also acknowledged stiff competition from China and told WBTV while he couldn't compete with the Asian market on price, he could on quality.

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