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Case Goods and Contract Furnishings Manufacturer, Whitewood Industries, Sells Company To Employees

Furniture World News


Whitewood Industries President Jorge Mata (Left) and Vice-President Ron Feibel (right).

Case goods and contract furnishings manufacturer, Whitewood Industries recently announced that it has sold its privately-owned company to its employees through an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).

The company, founded in 1982 by partners Jorge Mata and Ron Feibel, was originally a supplier to ready-to-finish furniture stores. Yet over the past three decades they diversified by adding finished furnishings, custom finish capabilities, as well as a designing and manufacturing hospitality and contract furniture.

According to Jorge Mata, Whitewood Industries’ President, the ESOP ensures the company’s long-term financial stability, as ESOPs help align employee goals with company goals and improve organizational performance as well as its employee’s well being as ESOPs help employees prepare for retirement.

Mata and Feibel wanted employees "to become a financial participant in the success of Whitewood and to help grow the company both in profitability and in efficiency of operations and customer service."

According to the Employee Ownership Foundation's 21st Annual Economic Survey of ESOP Companies they found the following:

  • 93.3% of survey respondents reported that creating employee ownership through an ESOP was a good business decision that benefited the company.

  • 76% of respondents indicated the ESOP positively affected the overall productivity of the employees.

  • Both profitability and revenue were up from previous years — 70.5% of respondents reported profitability increased and 76.2% of respondents noted revenue increased.

  • 80% of respondents stated the company's stock value increased as determined by outside independent valuations.

With employees now controlling about 8% of corporate equity in the U.S., according to the NCEO (National Center for Employee Ownership), ESOPs are on the rise.

The sale was completed in December 2017. Employees must have been with the company for one year and be at least twenty -one to be eligible to be part of the program.

Both Mata and Feibel will remain with the company in management positions.

More about Whitewood Industries: Founded in 1982 as a distributor of ready-to-finish furniture to retail stores throughout the eastern United States, Whitewood Inds. has evolved into a leading supplier of finished and unfinished furniture sold through leading retailers nationwide as well as designing and manufacturing for the hospitality and contract furniture industry.

Today, its four divisions include: Whitewood Ready-To-Finish (unfinished furniture), John Thomas Furniture (casual dining and custom finish programs), International Concepts (a supplier to specialty retailers) and Custom Contract Furnishings (designer/manufacturer contract upholstery). Whitewood is headquartered in Thomasville, N.C., where it employs 300 workers and has manufacturing, warehousing, corporate office and showroom facilities totaling 578,000 square feet. For more information, visit www.whitewoodfurniture.com.

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