Friday, July 29, 2011

Made in America, A Factory Tour

Amanda and I went to visit the Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams factory last week in Taylorsville, North Carolina. Since furniture can be a major investment I think you will appreciate knowing what goes into to making a quality piece of upholstered furniture.

The town of Taylorsville, felt like a town set in the 1950’s, a town with working factories that still make products from start to finish here in America. A town with workers who were real, true craftsmen (and women). A town where workers stay with one company and who spend their lives perfecting a craft. It truly made me appreciate these products and the value of buying American made products versus cheaper, imitations that you know are of lesser quality.

It was so cool to see actual women at sewing stations, custom sewing fabrics so fast I can’t believe a finger or two hadn’t been lost in the process. And real men upholstering the wood frames using their bare hands and staple guns which they carried in a holster like a real gun with a pocket full of staples as their ammunition.

There were managers quality checking all the work at different stages in the process and there were young guys unrolling each roll of fabric that came in to make sure there were no flaws.

Along the way there were interesting machines that make certain processes move much faster. Cool tables that took photos of the fabrics spread out to figure out how to best cut the fabrics with minimal waste. Zipper machines that applied the zipper and then the zipper pull. There was even a machine, a large vacuum mechanism, which reversed the casings for the cushions after they had been sewed.

Again, these were devoted workers who were so old-school that no one wore masks when painting the wood finishing on the furniture and no one was wearing gloves or any protective gear while handling big machinery, staple guns or sharp blades to cut the trimmings.

On top of the hard working nature and tedious tasks these folks were super nice. Everyone said, “hello” or “good morning” as we (a group of ‘city-folk’) walked by or stopped to stare at what they were doing! There were a few men in the factory who really appreciated seeing 25 young woman walking around the factory and definitely gave us the special treatment ;)

It was amazing to see how much order there was in what could be a chaotic environment. From top to bottom everyone knows where an order is in its production cycle and everyone is working on making sure every piece is made perfectly and in line to ship on time. Without getting too political it is nice to see something still made here in the US and know that there is such an emphasis on quality and craftsmanship.

Photography is not allowed in the factory out of respect for the workers and to protect trade secrets (haha) but I did sneak in this one picture of the factory mantra!

1950's factory from Google images

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