TUPELO – Unprecedented growth has forced United Furniture Industries to expand its presence at the Tupelo Furniture Market.
The company hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Building VI of the market Thursday to mark the official opening of another 6,000-square-foot space.
United now has nearly 23,000-square feet at the market, enough to make it the largest exhibitor.
“We came back to Tupelo after 3-and-a-half years this past August, and from the success of that we told the market we needed more space,” said Jay Quimby, the company’s executive vice president of sales.
While the Spring Tupelo Furniture Market officially started Thursday, buyers have been in since the start of the week.
“It’s been a great market so far,” he said. “We’ve seen top mass merchants, top 100 retailers, great mom-and-pops, e-commerce merchants, lots of rent-to-own customers…really a diverse bunch of customers.”
United has been in rapid growth mode during the past year, having added 2.4 million square feet of manufacturing and warehouse space.
United, which was founded in Northeast Mississippi, has more than 2,000 workers at its locations in the region, which include two plants in Okolona, and facilities in Amory, Hatley, Nettleton, Vardaman, Verona and Wren.
V.M. Cleveland, the chairman and owner of the market, said United’s growing presence was not only good for the company, but good for the industry in the state.
“It’s a great opportunity for them to show more of their products,” Cleveland said. “We love it when companies expand, which means business is good. … this market showcases Mississippi goods, and it’s good to see a Mississippi company excel like United. We’re glad we can be a part of that.”
United has been known for its upholstered furniture, but last year expanded into case goods, adding Simmons-branded bedroom, youth, casual dining, occasional tables and home entertainment pieces.
The company debuted its case goods at the Fall Tupelo Furniture Market in August, and has been on a roll since.
“We’ve seen customers like Wayfair, a $2 billion e-commerce company, come for the first time here,” Quimby noted. “We saw Bob’s Discounts a $1 billion company from the northeast that came to the market for the first time in three years. We’ve seen a nice resurgence here.”
While the customers are attracted to the products produced by United, Quimby also complimented the market itself.
“They do a great job of bringing the customers in,” he said. “The market does a great job catering to the South and make it comfortable and inviting to shop for everyone.”
Quimby also said United still is looking for additional help at its six Mississippi locations.
“We’re still hiring and people can come to our HR office in Verona,” he said. “We’re looking for good people, even if they don’t have any furniture experience. We instituted training lines a couple of years ago, so we’re taking people that want to learn a skill, work for a great company and have a career.”