Lincolnton company praised by Obama for bringing new jobs, closes

U.S. President Barack Obama shakes hands with Bruce Cochrane, owner of Lincolnton Furniture Co., at a January 2012 forum hosted by the White House on in-sourcing jobs in America. On Thursday, the company abruptly closed. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/MCT)

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by CAMERON STEELE / The Charlotte Observer

WCNC.com

Posted on January 4, 2013 at 10:21 AM

LINCOLNTON, N.C. -- Lincolnton Furniture Company closed abruptly Thursday just one year after it was hailed by President Barack Obama as an example of the recovering U.S. economy.

Furniture-making operations stopped indefinitely and only a few people will remain employed moving forward, company financial officer Ben Causey said.

“I don’t know where it’s going to go exactly; we’re still evaluating our situation,” Causey said. “We just didn’t have any choice at this point.”

The company was not receiving the orders it needed to sustain its operations, Causey said.

“We needed more orders is really what it boiled down to,” he said. “We thought they would materialize.”

Owner Bruce Cochrane, a fifth generation furniture-manufacturer, formed the company in 2011 with a $5 million investment and the hope he could make a profit off people who wanted to buy furniture made in America.

It was a move that caught the attention of North Carolina officials and those in the White House. Last year, Cochrane sat with the first lady during Obama’s 2012 State of the Union Address. He also joined the president and other business leaders in a discussion about how to create more jobs at home.

Attempts late Thursday to reach Cochrane were unsuccessful. Causey said company officials were thankful for the support they received from the community over the past year-and-a-half.

Jerry Cochrane, Bruce Cochrane’s uncle and former Lincoln County Commissioner, learned about the company’s closing Thursday.

“I was surprised that they stopped the operation this quickly,” he said. “But starting a furniture business now is very difficult in this country.”

Last week, the Gaston Gazette recognized Bruce Cochrane as one of its “persons of the year” in 2012 for starting the furniture-manufacturing in his hometown.

“Everybody was rooting for us and wanted us to succeed,” Causey said.

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