The executive director of South Carolina's statewide LGBT advocacy...
N.C. furniture company celebrates 25 years
Updated: February 12, 2014 at 10:28 pm
For 25 years, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams has been churning out U.S.-made home furnishings products. The company’s growth, the founders say, has been surprising and the journey rewarding.
“It surprised me the most how fast it has gone by,” says co-founder Mitchell Gold.
When he and business partner Bob Williams began the business, both had been working for companies started a decade or more before.
“We were thinking at some point, will we be able to have a date similar to that and now we have 25 years that have gone by faster than I could have ever imagined,” says Gold.
The company began in 1989 with production of what Williams called “Relaxed Design.” Williams wanted to give consumers what he’d want in his own home, furnishings that are “comfortable, classic, affordable,” according to a company history. They dressed their products in slip-covers, an idea Gold had once described as revolutionary.
Williams agrees it was a different approach.
“It’s definitely a rule that we live by,” Williams says. “We always try to give the consumer a something a little different than what they can find any place else.”
Based in Taylorsville, N.C., the company has also made a commitment to create and maintain U.S. furniture and manufacturing jobs. Their decision to stay stateside has earned them praise from politicians from both sides of the aisle. Both of North Carolina’s U.S. senators, Republican Richard Burr and Democrat Kay Hagan recorded messages of congratulations on the companies milestone. The videos were played company-wide at their headquarters and each of their retail stories during a 25th anniversary celebration on Feb. 6.
Gold says the elected officials are “certainly appreciative and noteworthy of our business and really wanted to give a big shout out for keeping business local.”
The duo have also been known for their personal and corporate giving. The company is a national sponsor of the Human Rights Campaign and Gold is the founder of Faith in America, a national, North Carolina-based group that works to end anti-LGBT religious bigotry. In addition, Gold co-edited an anthology, “Youth in Crisis,” with collected stories from LGBT leaders and young people about their experiences growing up gay. [Ed. Note — This writer contributed an essay for Gold’s book.]
But, above and beyond their care for LGBT equality, Gold and Williams also have a commitment to health and well-being — both for their workers and their workers’ families.
At their corporate headquarters, the company has two full-time medical associates on staff. If a worker isn’t feeling well, they have immediate access to care. They also have an on-site daycare. If a worker’s child needs attention or something unexpected occurs, a worker can be nearly-immediately available and not take the risk of missing more work — and pay — by being forced to leave work for an extended amount of time.
Gold is especially proud of his company’s cafeteria.
“It’s great having a healthy cafeteria on the campus,” he says. “Our employees don’t have to rush to go off to some greasy spoon. It’s not just some cold food, either. It’s a good hot lunch.”
As for health care, Gold says it was important for the company to provide good benefits and coverage for employees.
“We have great health care for our employees,” he says. “Nothing makes somebody feel better than simply being healthy.”
And, he’s grateful for President Barack Obama’s healthcare reforms.
“Going into 2014, none of our employees or the company will see an increase in our healthcare costs,” Gold says. “Obamacare’s impact on our healthcare program will not cost us more money and we’ll have better coverage.”
Gold and Williams are planning for expansion as they look forward to their next 25 years. This year alone, the company plans to open six stores across the U.S. and in Canada. They’ll continue that goal, with six new stores each year. : :
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About the author: Matt Comer is the editor of QNotes, first hired to serve in the role in October 2007. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at 704-531-9988, ext. 202. Follow him online at facebook.com/matthew.mh.comer or at twitter.com/themattcomer.