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Statton Furniture in Hagerstown to close its doors

September 30, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

HAGERSTOWN -- After 82 years of business in Hagerstown, Statton Furniture Manufacturing Co. will close, the company's president, T. Hunt Hardinge III, said Monday.

Hardinge said sales dropped off "significantly" in the last several months.

He said the company is going out of business on its own terms rather than filing for bankruptcy.

"The business is going to close with dignity, just like it's always operated," said Roger Schlossberg, an attorney who has represented the company off and on for years.

Sales were down about 50 percent in June from a year ago, Hardinge said. July was better, but August also was down 50 percent, and September has been worse, he said.

A final clearance sale is scheduled for Oct. 11 and 12. Schlossberg said the company probably will close around the end of the year.

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The company's work force of about 38 employees was notified of the closing Monday morning, Hardinge said.

Employees were disappointed, he said.

"There may have been some anticipation that maybe this was coming some time, but maybe not today," Hardinge said.

Statton, which specializes in high-end cherry home and office furniture, has a factory off Frederick Street at 504 E. First St. in Hagerstown's South End.

Hardinge said it's been increasingly difficult to compete against businesses that move their furniture production to other countries with cheap labor.

At the same time, two of Statton's top retail customers - Rose Furniture and Wood-Armfield - have folded in the past two years and others have struggled.

Schlossberg said the poor economy has cut into people's discretionary income.

Philo and Helen Statton started the furniture company in 1926 and built a 50,000-square-foot factory.

As of 2002, the Statton factory had grown to about 185,000 square feet.

"In our heyday, we had as many as 200 (employees)," Hardinge said. "That was 10 years ago."

The four-generation business suffered when Philip Statton died in January, Hardinge said. Philip Statton was president for 20 years and chairman of the board for two years, according to his obituary.

As sales dropped off in recent months, employees noticed.

About a dozen people were laid off a few weeks ago, Hardinge said.

He called the decision to close rather than seek bankruptcy "proactive."

"By selling the work in progress, and then the equipment, we can satisfy our obligations and make sure employees are paid everything they're entitled to," he said.

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