Haslam helps New Tazewell furniture manufacturer, announce $17.5 million expansion and 300 new jobs
From left, Terry England, senior vice-president of operations of England Furniture, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Otis Sawyer, England Furniture president, talk about the business operations during a Thursday tour.
NEW TAZEWELL — Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, Economic and Community Development Commissioners Bill Hagerty and local and county officials were at England Furniture in New Tazewell Thursday afternoon for the announcement of a $17.5 million manufacturing facility investment and the creation of 300 new jobs over the next five years.
“It’s a good day, not just for the county or for England, but for the state of Tennessee,” Haslam said. “I love my job, but this is the favorite part of my job when you get the chance to do things like we’re doing here today.”
The governor called the expansion “huge news and we are very, very grateful to you all for doing that.”
Haslam said England Furniture currently employees 1,050 people. The new jobs will bring its entire workforce to 1,350.
“For the last 50 years, this company has been supplying great products out there to the American consumer, but also been providing great jobs to the people of this entire area,” Haslam said. “I think one of the original purposes of the company was to provide great jobs for people in this area of Appalachia.”
The governor said news of expanded manufacturing in Tennessee is good for two reasons.
“First, people think we can’t make things in America any more. People think manufacturing doesn’t happen,” he said. “Well, this is an example of how that’s wrong. Tennessee is still very, very strong in the manufacturing business. We make a lot of things and we make them well in Tennessee … You name it, we make it in Tennessee. And this is proof we can make things and do them well in Tennessee and the United States.”
The governor said many people believe Tennessee’s rural areas are dying because of lack of employment opportunities.
“I say this is an example of why that isn’t true,” he said, adding that Tennessee is committed to having every region of our state strong in economic growth.
The governor said England’s goal, from the very beginning, was to bring employment to this region. The company started with three people. Haslam said growing from that to “1,350 is incredibly impressive.”
Terry England, senior vice president of operations for England Furniture and son of one of the founding members said, “England is recognized in the furniture industry for offering quality, choice and on-time delivery.”
Furniture built in the New Tazewell facility are shipped to all 50 states, all provinces of Canada and into 17 foreign countries.
“Who would have ever believed that we would be shipping furniture from New Tazewell, Tenn. into Russia today?” he asked. “England is transforming itself, not only to be a regional supplier, but a national and global supplier of fine, quality furniture.”
England Furniture President Otis Sawyer said company founder, Dwight England, had to leave Tennessee in the early 1960s to find work.
“During that time he worked very hard. He saved his money with the goal of returning Tennessee to start a new business,” Sawyer said. “Today, we employ over 1,000 and offer some of the best pay and benefits in the local community. We’re also a proud member of the La-Z-Boy family of companies, which makes us financially strong.”
Sawyer said to honor their founder’s commitment to the local community, England is “investing heavily in technology and plant bricks and mortar to help expand jobs here in the great state of Tennessee.”
He said the company is one of few in the United States that have not outsourced any aspect of its manufacturing process to China.
“This is a mark of great momentum for our state,” Hagerty said. “This is just the second time in the last week that we’ve had major announcements in this industry.”
The other news in the last week about 500 furniture jobs coming back from China to Union City in West Tennessee shows that “Tennessee can compete can compete on a global basis. We can ship goods, not only to the country, but all over the world.”
- By Denise Williams, Tribune Staff Writer