United Furniture owner quietly surfaces after firing 2,700 overnight

Freeman

The owner of United Furniture Industries, which abruptly fired all of its 2,700 employees through a one evening very last thirty day period, has been quietly assisting a wind-down of the organization — with some insiders declaring he’s attempting to “save face” next the bloodbath, The Submit has uncovered. David […]

The owner of United Furniture Industries, which abruptly fired all of its 2,700 employees through a one evening very last thirty day period, has been quietly assisting a wind-down of the organization — with some insiders declaring he’s attempting to “save face” next the bloodbath, The Submit has uncovered.

David Belford — a wealthy Ohio businessman who had absent silent for quite a few months adhering to the Nov. 21 layoffs at home furniture factories in Mississippi, North Carolina and California — resurfaced earlier this thirty day period, telling a community small business publication he is “devastated by the transform of events” and calling the problem “agonizing.”

But Belford also insisted he’s not to blame, according to the Dec. 12 interview with Columbus Enterprise 1st. He named himself a “passive investor” in the Okolona, Miss out on.-primarily based company, according to the report, incorporating that “my perception into the company’s funds was minimal.” 

“Only extremely recently did I study just how dire the predicament had grow to be, how limited the company’s solutions have been,” he mentioned. “Unfortunately, the reality of UFI’s situation was brought to the board’s notice much also late.” 

United Furniture owner quietly surfaces after firing 2,700 overnight
David Belford resurfaced earlier this thirty day period telling a regional small business publication he is “devastated by the flip of occasions.”
Flying Horse Farm

Yet, sources say Belford has quietly taken an energetic purpose in the liquidation, rehiring a handful of staff members like the former fiscal controller, Kim Harper. A previous human means government, Helen Benefield, has been tapped to assist staff members get well belongings from shuttered services and to reassure them they will get W2 statements, sources explained.

“He rehired Harper and Benefield and many others to help save facial area simply because he was obtaining hammered,” claimed Philip Hearn, an attorney who is suing UFI on behalf of workers. “Who appears to be like like a even larger Scrooge than this person?”

Belford did not return calls for comment.

UFI’s loan providers which include Wells Fargo are spearheading the bulk of the shutdown, returning vans and products to vendors and paying out for safety to secure these property, sources reported. A spokesperson for Wells Fargo declined to comment. UFI suppliers, meanwhile, say they were being blindsided by the sudden shutdown and stumped by Belford’s rationalization that he was out of the loop.

Workers at United Furniture Industries
All of United Furniture’s 2,700 staff members ended up fired for the duration of a single night time previous thirty day period.
United Furniture Industries
Inside a United Furniture Industries warehouse
Resources say Belford has quietly taken an energetic part in the liquidation.
United Home furniture Industries

“I just cannot visualize obtaining a enterprise as huge as UFI and not know what is heading on,” explained Keith Sechrest, co-owner of Seagrove Lumber LLC, which was pressured to lay off its 45 workforce immediately after the vast bulk of its organization went away when UFI shuttered.

UFI experienced fallen driving on its payments to North Carolina-centered Seagrove this year, but “there was no warning” that it would basically fold, Sechrest reported. His brother also owns a lumber firm that was compelled to shut down and lay off 30 workers.

UFI owes Seagrove $1.2 million in unpaid invoices more than the past 90 times, Sechrest promises, and owes his brother’s business 50 percent a million pounds. A modest blade-sharpening small business that worked with each lumber companies is also on the verge of closing, getting a further four work opportunities with it, he reported.

It is not distinct no matter if UFI will file for personal bankruptcy. Resources stated UFI’s board — whose chairman is even now Belford, in accordance to the Ohio Business Journal — has lately retained distressed-debt lawyer Mark Melickian, a Chicago-centered partner at Sugar Felsenthal Grais & Helsinger, who did not reply to requests for remark. UFI also has hired work litigation legal professional Michael Kelly, a spouse at Squire Patton Boggs in San Francisco, who declined to remark.

“The operator may possibly assume it is much too high priced to file for bankruptcy security and the bank would appreciate to provide it as a turnkey procedure,” explained Kenneth Rosen, a distressed-personal debt legal professional at Lowenstein Sandler who is not concerned in the circumstance.

Suppliers and suppliers had been advised not long ago that organization was increasing and that there was no inkling the corporation was in the “dire” form Belford statements. Even though demand from customers for furnishings has slowed as curiosity rates and inflation rose, UFI has customarily executed properly in the course of recessions, since its solutions are price-oriented, a former govt told The Submit.

Lane Furniture store in Verona, Miss. Lane is a unit of UFI.
Lane Furniture retailer in Verona, Miss out on. Lane is a unit of UFI.
Kenzie Neal

“There is no rationale this corporation really should be in the posture it is in,” wrote UFI’s longtime president, Larry George, in a Facebook write-up on Nov. 29. George remaining the corporation just about two decades back and said he would have “stayed on” had he acknowledged it would shut, incorporating that he “would have handled this in a completely distinctive way.”

George declined to comment for this story.

“How could someone who owns a majority of the enterprise not know the economical scenario,” a former supervisor at the North Carolina functions told The Post, incorporating that as not long ago as October, a senior govt visited the crops she managed and certain her that “things had been moving in the proper route.”

United Furniture Industries
UFI’s loan providers including Wells Fargo are spearheading the bulk of the shutdown, returning vans and gear to vendors and paying for security to defend these belongings, sources said.
United Home furnishings Industries

Some personnel have signed on to lawsuits alleging that UFI violated labor laws by firing them without 60 days’ detect. UFI sent out texts and e-mail to employees telling them not to come to perform on Nov. 21 since their careers and well being insurance plan had been removed, successful quickly.

A new Warn see was despatched to workers two months in the past in which UFI disclosed for the first time that it was unable “to obtain adequate financing to retain operations” and that the business was “trying really hard” to get this funding.

“It’s unhappy that he is complete of it and takes no blame for any of this,” a previous UFI personnel explained of Belford on a Facebook site for laid-off staff who are exchanging information and facts about well being insurance policies, utility guidance plans and other products and services.

“That’s bull-s–t,” wrote one more ex-employee, responding to Belford’s claims that he was blindsided by a downturn in the small business. “David came down inside the previous 6 months. So he could of gave us extra warning. As an alternative [the] CEO kept telling us business enterprise was improving.”

Next Post

Records show safety concerns with construction at Amazon warehouse hit by tornado

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) – Documents exhibit building inspectors located security worries as they checked development at the Edwardsville Amazon warehouse that is being rebuilt right after six individuals died in a tornado. On Dec. 9, 2021, the warehouse was hit by an EF-3 twister. The storm ripped off element […]
Records show safety concerns with construction at Amazon warehouse hit by tornado