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Posted November 1, 2012 | comments 16 Comments

Furniture plant to close; economy blamed

Henkel Harris likely to end production next month, putting 130 out of work

By Sally Voth

The poor economy has claimed another victim -- high-end Winchester furniture crafters Henkel Harris.

Bill Henkel, CEO and president of the company started by his parents in 1946, confirmed on Thursday that Henkel Harris likely would close at the end of next month.

"We're hoping that we don't have to shut down at the end of the year," he said. "Incoming orders are very slow. People just aren't buying furniture. We can't run if we don't have orders."

That means 130 employees -- including Henkel's three sons, William Jr., Mark and John Carroll -- will be out of jobs.

Henkel's late parents, Carroll and Mary Henkel, and their friend, John Harris, started the company in 1946, and it kept growing, according to the Henkel Harris website. The firm's craftsmen create reproduction 18th-century furniture out of cherry and mahogany, he said.

"It's very disturbing, but we're seeing a lot of our high-end retailers have been closing their doors this year," Henkel said of the impending closure. "We've lost four high-end retailers this year."

And, more are saying they plan to go out of business, he said.

"The economy really is not conducive to people spending money," Henkel said. "We always considered that being made here in America [that] that was a plus, but that's not the case evidently because people, they're going to Costco and buying import furniture. The companies that are making it are very low-end. People are going out and buying cheap stuff and living with it. High-end furniture just doesn't have a place in this country anymore."

Henkel holds out the possibility that the closure may be temporary, but doesn't have much hope.

"There's a possibility that we will be running a smaller shift, but I don't want to hold out hope for it right now," he said. "There may be a skeleton crew until we get all that moved, but at this point, it does look like we will probably have to close the doors unless something turns around with the election."

Henkel Harris furniture is in the White House, the CEO noted. Henkel said the retail price of one of the firm's dining room tables is generally $8,000-$12,000.

"Even the people that have money aren't spending it," he said. "They're scared. They're scared with this economy. You can't squeeze blood out of a turnip."

Employees were informed of the upcoming shutdown on Monday.

"Most of them are not very pleased with it, but they understand," Henkel said. "There's just no orders coming. The one thing that creates jobs is a demand for a product or a service. There just isn't any demand out there."

He said he understood that people need to spend their money on things like cars to get themselves to work.

"There are more and more manufacturers that are in the same position that we're in," Henkel said.

He said he didn't know yet what his family would do for work after the plant shuts down.

"We're kind of concerned about that, too," Henkel said.

There are no plans to sell the 300,000-square-foot plant, he said, but the equipment may be sold.

Henkel Harris is having a factory sale Nov. 8-10.

Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or svoth@nvdaily.com


    There goes another 130 jobs. Add that to the GE light bulb jobs and the brake pad company that sent their jobs to Mexico. Walmart here is always stuffed with shoppers and no one cares. How sad this town will be in another 10 years at this rate. People keep voting against thier own best interests and common sense when they keep the greedy in power and let these companies do what they will with our jobs. Sadly, that means voting for the conservative Republicans who want to cut out everything that benefits the poor, give the breaks to people who do not need them, and replace a proud middle class with a permanent under class that will rent thier run down apartments, work for a low wage, and enrich a small percentage of the population. I highly recommend the book, "Deer Hunting with Jesus" written by a fellow Winchester resident who has seen this town continue to fall apart. Good luck to those that will lose thier jobs. They will have to compete with all the others that greed has left jobless and scratching for a minimum wage job (which Republicans consistenly vote not to raise).

    copy'ing and pasting this coment ""Deer Hunting with Jesus" written by a fellow Winchester resident who has seen this town continue to fall apart.

    I'm not a fellow resident of Winchester, but...when I was a young man in Front Royal when Avtex fibers plant was closing down. I can remember a young man (older then myself) and his politician dad walking into the restaraunt I worked. I think he now works for a bank ( high position). They definately were republicans! I could tell they had not much time for low waqge workers.

    lower payed workers. I know your winchester has probably some good politicians!! I pray that this family furniture company can come on top of things. I'll have to check out the store the next time in Frederick County.

    While it is very sad to see this company close it is also the sign of the inability of some to see the shift in market conditions and not adjust to them. Unfortunately to make it in this new economy you have to create an organization that is nimble and scalable. Not all the issues are politically based.

    I would have valued the opportunity to work with a company that is so rich in history in giving a nod to its heritage but focusing on changing the business model to continue growth no matter if it is a republican or democratic President.

    Very sad. Don't know what those "no good" republicans have to do with it however. The issue is that every rational person should be scared about the economy. Unless there is a change, no one, not even Republicans, will be in the market for quality products of any kind.

    It was a sad day when the Ben Franklin Store in Woodstock VA, which had been open for 75 years, had to close its doors, saying it could not compete with Walmart.

    A top executive of Walmart has been on the board of directors of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for nearly a decade.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/wal-mart-took-part-in-lobbying-campaign-to-amend-anti-bribery-law/2012/04/24/gIQAyZcdfT_story.html (DOI: April 24, 2012)

    I feel bad that a family business that has made such quality furniture is apparently closing. I really feel bad also for the employees that are being let go. But I too, like PROTECTDKIDS really wonder why these owners were not constantly monitoring what is going on in the business and changing their business model according to what goes on in the economy.

    Several family members of mine have had their own businesses for years and I can tell you, they are constantly monitoring the market and buying trends and adjusting (or leaving in place) according to what is going on. No matter how well they did in any given year, they never take their eye off of what is going on and what is happening at the current time and are ready to adjust to what is going on in the market place. Consequently, they have had ups and downs, but on the whole have been successful for years and are still successful even with this economy.

    I have to ask also, even in the best of economic times, how big is the market for a dining room table when, according to Mr. Henkel, "---- the retail price of one of the firm's dining room tables is generally $8,000-$12,000"? That is dining room TABLE----not dining room set, but just the table alone! How much more for the rest of the set? Again, let us be 'real'----if we are talking about a dining room set (since I know of no one who buys just the table) of $8000 to $1200 PLUS how much more, don't you think most savy companies would perhaps face the fact that after the financial hit this country took which was the worst since the Great Depression in the 1930's, that it would have appeared logical that a high-end furniture company would be impacted?

    I think Mr. Henkel needs to ask himself what changes his business could have made four years ago to weather this tough economy we have been through and as it continues to improve, how to position themselves until more people will be in the market for their expensive, high-end furniture.

    Perhaps Henkels should have switched their product line to be more in tune with the needs and demands of the real marketplace. Continuing to make the same items as they always did, even when there was no need or desire for them is always a death knell for manufacturers. Come out w/ veneered wood products of decent quality and reasonably priced and you'd still be in business.

    Henkel-Harris was one of the last America Made furniture company, now they are another victim of a poor economy. We have seen a lot of business close in the last 2 years. It is sad to see any company close, but to see a way of hand craftmanship such a Henkel-Harris close is truthly sad. Because it is possible we will never again see this level of craftmanship again in America.

    I spoke with a higher up in the Henkel-Harris company the other day. The bottom line is they build high quality, high end furniture. Where the problem for them happened was the smaller independent dealers kept going out of business. These independant dealers, smaller,more personable and better educating to the consumer,could not stay open any longer. That took away the best Henkel-Harris salespeople. Salespeople who was not employed by Henkel-Harris. When there is nobody to tell a potential spender why they should spend more...well, they won't spend more in this economy. An uneducated consumer who just looks is going to take the cheaper product. And there is the problem. We don't even know what the continued drying up of small business will mean to us all. Us folks in small business are better but you will get less of us if you guys think about our lowest paid worker's free stuff and not the business itself.

    Only an idiot would blame republicans for job losses. While others say "why these owners were not constantly monitoring what is going on in the business and changing their business model according to what goes on in the economy"

    Some businesses cannot change their business model as their products are what they are.....real products.

    The people that flap their gums probably never owned a business but only stole from their employer every chance they were given.

    C.E. Thompsons in Edinburg is closing up it's business as well. It's the economy and it isn't getting better regardless of what Obama has told you and your of the mind to believe.

    Wait and see what another 4 years will bring, just wait.

      Only an idiot would vote Republican, unless wealthy. The greedy are moving the jobs to Mexico where they can abuse workers with harsh conditions and low wages. The vast majority of these folks are old, white, rich repukes. That is what is killing this town and America. Thank God, Obama was re elected.

      Old clunker, your ludicris talking about republicans and no job loss.

      I work in the waste industry also. I think you said you worked wastewater. I work with trash, you work wastewater! These are the jobs that can't be outsourced to India or Mexico, until they come in and manually take our jobs.

      I definately didnt vote republican this past election.

    Capitalism is dead in America and why not when we have a socialist president. All the democrats were saying all along is how much money Mitt Romney made and even in these comments above spit venom at the wealthy.

    "Instead of demonizing the wealthy, we should teach our kids to learn from them. We should instruct our kids that the vast majority of wealthy Americans were not born with a silver spoon in their mouths but actually went out, struggled, sacrificed and earned their success the old-fashioned way — in the free market , where incredible competition is the standard."

    -Ted Nugent Washington Times 10/4/2012



    The Obamanoids will blame everyone but the true reason - the person in the mirror.

    4 years of misery and it's only getting worse. Wait til next summer when all the cutbacks have kicked in - including the reduction in gov't entitlements.

    Sorry to see this company close. Gonna hurt a lot of people.

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