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Paxton Furniture Shifts Production From China To Okolona

Paxton Furniture shifts production from China to Okolona

Paxton Furniture shifts production from China to Okolona

Tyrone Collins and Brandon Donaldson, packaging line employees at Paxton Furniture in Okolona, get a sofa ready to ship on April 27, 2023. Adam Robison | DAILY JOURNAL Gerald Eacholes put a foam seat cushion onto the frame of a new motion sofa being built at Paxton Furniture in Okolona on April 27, 2023. OKOLONA – In what was formerly a 200,000-square-foot warehouse, two production lines are creating furniture that was once made in China. Paxton Furniture Industries began operations last June with just a handful of employees. They now employ 80, and the company needs another 40 as demand increases and orders need to be filled. “I came here in November of 2021, and there were just three of us here,” said Tim Watts, Paxton’s production and purchasing manager. “We really weren’t doing anything but warehousing, loading out containers and trucks and that sort of stuff.” PFI is owned by Adam Paxton and his uncle and partner, Jim, industry veterans who started the company after customers said they wanted to see more furniture being built domestically rather than coming from China, Vietnam and elsewhere overseas. Four motion sofa lines that were previously made overseas are now being built at the Okolona facility where employees essentially reengineered them for PFI to produce. While the cut-and-sew fabrics kits are still shipped in, as is the case at most furniture manufactures, PFI uses frames, foam, mechanisms, most of the hardware, cardboard and other supplies locally. “It’s kind of a unique story here,” Watts said. “This stuff was being produced in China, and what we’ve done is take what Adam was already selling and reengineering them. Of course, we build a frame differently. We don’t use any OSB; it’s all plywood and hardwood. It’s solid.” At Paxton, the furniture is also closed at the bottom to present a clean look, an uncommon practice in the industry. Better, stronger materials help provide a higher-quality product, which is why the company has been able to land key customer accounts among the coveted top 100 retailers in the nation. In fact, PFI’s customers are in the top 15, an impressive showing for a small manufacturer not even a year old. And some eyes in the state capital have even taken notice. “While a lot of states gave up on manufacturing 20 years ago, Mississippi didn’t,” said Gov. Tate Reeves. “We recognized that Mississippians are some of the best manufacturers in the nation, and that’s why we’re making record investments toward their job training. I’m grateful for PFI’s contributions to our state’s manufacturing prowess.” But PFI is struggling to meet demand. Even as a third production line is being put in a place and a fourth and fifth are planned, the manufacturer needs more employees to help meet production needs. “We’re in a hiring mode and we need more people now,” Watts said. With more than 30 years of experience first with Stratford and then Southern Motion before coming to Paxton, Watts said the company is doing its part in the reshoring effort that has been a focus of manufacturers in recent years. “We’re making furniture in America and moving it from China,” Watts said. “And we plan to make some more models that have been coming from offshore.” PFI makes almost exclusively motion furniture in both manual and electronic models, but it does produce some modular groups that are stationary. But motion furniture — recliners and sofas with reclining features, etc. — is the sweet spot of the industry at the moment, making up nearly half of all upholstery sales. It’s also more profitable, with upcharges for motion providing a palatable markup for consumers. “One thing Adam does is he sells to all the top tier customers and sells to the same ones that Southern Motion, HomeStretch and others sell to, but we’re only going after a couple of those customers,” Watts said. “We really haven’t opened it up to his full customer base because we don’t have that capacity yet… we don’t want to overpromise and underdeliver.” djr-2023-04-29-news-nation-world-briefing Newsletters

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Daisie Hobson

Daisie Hobson is a Director at the Reshoring Institute and an engineer with many years of experience in manufacturing and project management.

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