Triad of labor-strapped furniture makers
HIGH POINT, NC (WGHP) – The furniture industry is back at full speed after the pandemic forced it to a sudden halt. Now that the business is booming, the problem is finding workers to make the furniture.
Owners of furniture manufacturing companies have said finding people trained in their industry is one of the biggest challenges.
While trade school instructors are hoping students will generate more interest in this type of work, some companies are rising to the challenge of teaching on the job to meet consumer demand.
âThe demand for the product is so high right now that we can’t keep up. If we had a more experienced workforce, which we didn’t have to train, we would be able to ship more and meet customer needs, âsaid Anthony Pennisi, owner of Domenick’s Furniture Manufacturer.
In the furniture industry, it’s all about meeting the needs of consumers.
âThis year has been kind of a pinch moment for yourself in the industry. If you have inventory, people will buy it, âsaid Jason Phillips, vice president of sales at Phillip’s Collection.
And with more people spending more time at home because of the pandemic, more have bought.
âWe’re up almost 50% this year,â Phillips said.
The only problemâ¦
“It was very difficult to find people and what we had to do is make sure that we are as competitive as possible with our pay, with our benefits, but employee retention is also what we are doing. we always care, âPhillips said.
Phillip’s Collection employs around 50 people at its manufacturer in High Point, but it takes at least five more.
Further afield, at Domenick’s, they find their own way to meet demand.
âWe have decided that we hire people with minimal experience and train so that we can get exactly what we need,â said Pennisi.
But that slows down production. They hope to have more workers with previous experience.
And teaching a complex job like an eight-way tie takes about a year to learn.
âHe uses coiled ropes and places them strategically inside the sofa and there’s hardly any bar, you know. So this is where you have to experience it, âPennisi said.
Industry leaders have said that a big part of this problem is that fewer people are focusing on business careers.
So how do you train potential employees before they walk through those doors?
âYou get them when they’re young, they’re also going to bring their friends with them,â said Steve Castelloe, director of business and industry training at GTCC.
This is the goal of the GTCC Furniture Academy.
Castelloe hopes his program, which pairs students with professionals from the local industry, will make a difference.
Often, potential employers who mentor students end up offering them jobs.
âIt’s a great opportunity to build something with your own hands and have great occupation, great benefits, to be able to stay local,â said Castelloe.
He thinks that enrolling in the Furniture Academy program this semester is a step in the right direction.
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