LINCOLNTON, N.C. -- The town of Lincolnton is about to get major national attention. Harry Smith, correspondent with NBC’s new news magazine show “Rock Center,” spent part of last week there. NewsChannel 36 anchor Bobby Sisk talked with him about the story that got his and NBC’s attention.
“We’ll go to market with solid wood bedroom and dining room furniture,” Bruce Cochrane told Sisk back in September. He’s starting a new furniture maker, Lincolnton Furniture, in the same plant where his former company, Cochrane Furniture, manufactured before selling out in 1996.
“I’ve been travelling for the last few weeks and visiting retailers that I know,” Cochrane said. “The narrative from all of them is that we’re ready for this. People are asking for American made.”
Cochrane is on track to hire 75 workers by the end of the year. He’ll have a staff of 131 by February.
“We heard there was some good news,” explained Smith. “In this day and age when the economy is really the most important story, to hear about somebody whose family has been in the furniture business literally for generations to say we’re going to come back and start up all over again because the time is right on so many different levels—we just said that is an irresistible story for us.”
Smith spent last Tuesday with Cochrane. On Wednesday we met up with him in Lincolnton’s historic downtown.
“There are stores and real business going on here. The folks here have figured out some things that probably could be lessons for folks in other parts of the country,” Smith said.
When the story in Lincolnton airs on “Rock Center,” it will also feature local businessman Bo King. His family has owned Kings Office Supply at 227 East Main Street for 59 years.
“It (business) is harder now than it used to be,” King said. He’s adapted by changing what he offered and even adding educational supplies. A front window display features items made in the United States, something King tries to promote.
“There is a lot of office furniture offshore and I sell it when I have to be competitive, but the good U.S. made stuff will last a whole lot longer for not a whole lot more,” King said.
King recently picked up a new account from his old friend, Bruce Cochrane. The impact, he thinks, is widespread. “We’re living the dream of what the experts say. This is the way we’re going to get the U.S. out of this bad economy is grow it ourselves,” King said.
“The community itself is just bursting with pride,” said King. “Everyone is really excited about it and it’s hard not to talk about it. So many other businesses are now going to benefit from having a corporate headquarters located in Lincolnton, North Carolina.”
Smith feels like he got a good story in Lincolnton, one he’s honored to be able to tell.
“It is humbling in its own way, because we’ve chronicled so much suffering over the last several years,” Smith said. “These places where people are getting hired, it lifts the spirit. It lifts their personal spirit and it lifts the spirit of the country.”
Lincolnton Furniture is still hiring for open positions through the North Carolina Employment Security Commission. That office is located at 529 North Aspen Street. You can access the NCESC website at www.ncesc.com. Actual furniture production is set to begin next month. The first shipments will go out in January.
NewsChannel 36 will let you know when Harry Smith’s story will air. In the meantime, be sure to check out “Rock Center” with Brian Williams Mondays at 10 p.m. on WCNC, NewsChannel 36.