Chromcraft is closing its doors after more than 50 years of operation in Senatobia.
A former employee told The Democrat last week that around 15 employees will stay on for the next 30 days to help shut down operations. The company’s closing has been confirmed by multiple other sources.
“Chromcraft has meant a lot to both Senatobia and Tate County since its opening in 1962,” Tate County Economic Development Foundation Director Tim Climer said. “While we are disappointed for the loyal, hardworking employees, we are bringing every resource to the table to assist them in the next phase of their careers. This includes special state re-employment assistance and our continuing pursuit of existing industry expansions and new industrial prospects.”
The company was purchased by Sport-Haley Holdings, Inc., in October of last year, just a few months after it was announced that Senatobia would become Chromcraft headquarters.
In March, operations were suspended for several weeks to do what Sport-Haley CEO Sam Kidston called some “restructuring.”
Only a few weeks ago, however, Kidston hinted at a bright future for Chromcraft in Furniture Today.
“Over the past six months, we have made tremendous progress toward building a leaner, more focused and effective operating platform at Chromcraft,” Kidston told the magazine in an article published on April 30. “We believe these actions will position Chromcraft to achieve gross margins in line with industry norms by the end of 2014, and, in the longer term, achieve profitability in fiscal 2015.”
As recently reported by The Democrat, the company has been struggling to pay utility bills to the City of Senatobia.
Calls to Chromcraft and Sport-Haley officials have gone unreturned.
Chromcraft, which employed around 220 people, celebrated 50 years in Senatobia in 2012.
Chromcraft Corporation, under the name American Fixture and Manufacturing Company, was organized and incorporated as a Missouri corporation in 1908, according to the April 26, 1962, edition of The Democrat.
In 1939, seeking additional markets, the company began manufacturing metal furniture. Since chrome was the most common type of metal used, the name Chromcraft was selected for this “infant division of the parent company.”
In 1955, Chromcraft was incorporated as a separate company, and in 1960, a need for growth arose.
Four areas were considered for a new plant, including Western Kentucky, Western Tennessee, Northeast Arkansas, and Northwest Mississippi. Factors taken into account were labor market, freight and transportation facilities, churches, and community spirit and interest.
On May 9, 1961, at a special Balance Agriculture with Industry (BAWI) election, a bond issue was approved, and construction on the Senatobia plant began shortly after.
The company, at the time referred to as “the Cadillac of the dinette industry,” produced its first pilot run of dinette sets in Senatobia’s plant in February of 1962.
The dedication and grand opening of the plant, which was considered “one of the most modern and best-equipped plants in the country,” was held on April 27, 1962, and was quite an affair.
The big day consisted of a parade, a community barbeque lunch, the dedication of the plant (which included an address by then-Governor Ross Barnett), plant tours, a reception at Senatobia’s community center, and a dance held at the National Guard Armory.
The company anticipated at the time that around 400 men and women would be employed at the plant.