4:32 PM EST, January 26, 2012
A major employer in southwest Virginia is expanding, and many people are pointing to this as another sign that American manufacturing jobs might be rebounding.
The Vaughan-Bassett Furniture factory in Galax is running at full capacity.
But it's 700 employees took a break from the job Thursday to hear some good news.
"We're here today because Vaughan-Bassett is growing like a weed!" said company president and CEO Wyatt Bassett. "Sales were up 19% in the 4th quarter of 2011, and continue to be up over 20% so far in the first quarter of this year."
Bassett credits this increase in business on an increase demand for American-made products.
"You people have proven that we can compete and defeat any competitor in any country in the world," cheered Bassett.
All of the business success is leading to expansion. Vaughan-Bassett purchased a vacant factory nearby in Galax.
Webb Furniture, a former competitor, closed it's doors in January 2006 and laid off 300 workers. Vaughan-Bassett is now putting that vacant building to use.
"We have wonderful news," John Bassett, the company chairman told the crowd of employees. "We have purchased the Webb #1 Factory, and we will open that factory in March of this year."
It's an $8 million investment; in a new building, new equipment, and at least 100 new employees.
"It's a sign that maybe business is turning a bit, maybe our economy is turning a bit," said Galax Mayor CM Mitchell.
Company officials say they've been questioned about the timing of the purchase and investment, since the housing industry and economy are still under-performing. Chairman John Bassett's answer was to quote Warren Buffett:
"He said, if you wait for the robins to come back, and if you wait for the dogwoods to bloom, you're too late. Guys this is January and the robins aren't here and the dogwoods aren't blooming, but come April, we will be here!"
The new building will be up and running by March, with 50 new employees to start. That number will increase over the next few months.
People wanting to apply for jobs should contact the Virginia Employment Commission.
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