Henkel Harris Closing Next Month

Money.PitNovember 8, 2012

I was shocked to hear this, hopefully there's something they can do, a merger perhaps, or an investor to buy the company.

They are taking final orders for the next two weeks, so if there's a piece you have been wanting, now is the time.

Article follows:


Nov. 1, 2012

Furniture plant to close; economy blamed

Henkel Harris likely to end production next month, putting 130 out of work

By Sally Voth

The poor economy has claimed another victim -- high-end Winchester furniture crafters Henkel Harris.

Bill Henkel, CEO and president of the company started by his parents in 1946, confirmed on Thursday that Henkel Harris likely would close at the end of next month.

"We're hoping that we don't have to shut down at the end of the year," he said. "Incoming orders are very slow. People just aren't buying furniture. We can't run if we don't have orders."

That means 130 employees -- including Henkel's three sons, William Jr., Mark and John Carroll -- will be out of jobs.

Henkel's late parents, Carroll and Mary Henkel, and their friend, John Harris, started the company in 1946, and it kept growing, according to the Henkel Harris website. The firm's craftsmen create reproduction 18th-century furniture out of cherry and mahogany, he said.

"It's very disturbing, but we're seeing a lot of our high-end retailers have been closing their doors this year," Henkel said of the impending closure. "We've lost four high-end retailers this year."

And, more are saying they plan to go out of business, he said.

"The economy really is not conducive to people spending money," Henkel said. "We always considered that being made here in America [that] that was a plus, but that's not the case evidently because people, they're going to Costco and buying import furniture. The companies that are making it are very low-end. People are going out and buying cheap stuff and living with it. High-end furniture just doesn't have a place in this country anymore."

Henkel holds out the possibility that the closure may be temporary, but doesn't have much hope.

"There's a possibility that we will be running a smaller shift, but I don't want to hold out hope for it right now," he said. "There may be a skeleton crew until we get all that moved, but at this point, it does look like we will probably have to close the doors unless something turns around with the election."

Henkel Harris furniture is in the White House, the CEO noted. Henkel said the retail price of one of the firm's dining room tables is generally $8,000-$12,000.

"Even the people that have money aren't spending it," he said. "They're scared. They're scared with this economy. You can't squeeze blood out of a turnip."

Employees were informed of the upcoming shutdown on Monday.

"Most of them are not very pleased with it, but they understand," Henkel said. "There's just no orders coming. The one thing that creates jobs is a demand for a product or a service. There just isn't any demand out there."

He said he understood that people need to spend their money on things like cars to get themselves to work.

"There are more and more manufacturers that are in the same position that we're in," Henkel said.

He said he didn't know yet what his family would do for work after the plant shuts down.

"We're kind of concerned about that, too," Henkel said.

There are no plans to sell the 300,000-square-foot plant, he said, but the equipment may be sold.

Henkel Harris is having a factory sale Nov. 8-10.

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I just heard this today at the furniture store. Such a shame. Luckily I just got my bed from white stock. No one will ever be able to duplicate the finishes they have. After 11/6, there will be only more of this...

    Bookmark   November 10, 2012 at 10:31PM
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My condolences to Henkel Harris and all their employees who may be loosing their jobs as a result of the lack of orders coming. I do take exception to the notion that there is no business. You only have to look at the major catalog stores such as Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware and others who are all doing well. I think what Henkel Harris needs to do is to reassess their product mix, find a niche and re-focus their operation. They probably need an update and a new direction. Perhaps their old product mix and customer base is not selling and those customer are holding tight but if you look at the aforementioned retailers you will see that there is business out there.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 7:38AM
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Freethinker99, Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, and Restoration Hardware sell awful quality furniture at high prices. Their sofas are made with stapled nylon webbing, for example, instead of 8-way tied springs. These brands are also supported by sales of other products, such as glassware, Christmas decorations, etc.

I just don't understand how Henkel Harris can be in business for decades and then say "Well, we are going out of business next month." They should have tried, and hopefully will, try to merge with another brand, such as Baker or Kindel.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 6:38PM
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And Henkel Harris did find a niche in handmade cherry and mahogany traditional furniture. It never intended to be Crate and Barrel, etc., and no one would have wanted it to be.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 8:51PM
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My point was not comparing Henkel Harris to the catalog stores in terms of quality but that there is business to be found and at high price points: And Crate and Barrel and Restoration Hardware do not as a rule sell Nylon webbing in their upholstery as their foundation.

To quote Mr. Henkel:

"The economy really is not conducive to people spending money," Henkel said

It could be said that there isn't the interest in buying solid and veneer "Wlliamsburg Cherry" and Mahogany that there once was.

Henkel Harris should in my opinion should study the market place look for another niche and go forward if they have the resources to do so rather than close down.

For example take a company like Cresent which does some dining room and mostly bedroom. They have taken a department store look and a catalog store look to some extent and made a very nice quality product.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 11:22PM
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So my question is with Henkel Harris closing, what high-end furniture manufacturers are left that still make their case goods in the United States?

Is this really a bigger story that there are now none left?

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 6:04PM
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Stickley makes most here (a small portion is made in Vietnam). Although not "high end" to some, so does Harden, I believe. Maybe Baker, Council, Kittinger. I don't really know.

I called Stickley to see if I could buy some extra open cage bail pulls to match my dresser, and they said that they cannot be purchased anymore because the Buffalo, NY brass company that made them went out of business. It seems everything is made in China...

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 8:02PM
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Karges, Kindel.

Craftique closed its doors earlier this year.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 11:26PM
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According to the guys in the factory at Henkel Harris, Baker is no longer made in the United States. I was surprised, but they assured me this had changed.

    Bookmark   December 1, 2012 at 9:39PM
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It is sad to hear that Karges, Kindel, Kittinger, and Councill are all we can come up with. I don't believe Harden is at the level of Henkel Harris (questionable whether others of these listed also are same quality). There were so many great VA/NC companies in years past. I believe all left from that area is Councill, no?

...also I believe I asked the guys at HH about Stickley also and they confirmed that some of it now came out of Vietnam (or maybe it was Indonesia).

This post was edited by diganote on Thu, Dec 6, 12 at 22:23

    Bookmark   December 6, 2012 at 1:32PM
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I spoke with Bill Henkel and other senior management yesterday. They plan on closing the doors January 31, 2013 unless a buyer can be found. There is interest by one of the investors/buyers in keeping the current factory running so they asked to keep them in their prayers. It would be sad to see this American hallmark leave Winchester, VA and even sadder to see the name vanish or be taken overseas.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2012 at 11:13PM
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Henkel Harris has dropped it's 'going out of business' denotations from its advertising intensifying rumors that it has indeed found a potential lifeline/buyer. They are holding a sale in February, after the extended closing date of January 31st, so this may be a good sign for the company. Much of their lines are being discontinued so any 'new' Henkel Harris may be looking to achieve better economies of scale by limiting manufacturing to only its better selling pieces.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2013 at 3:10PM
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If Henkel Harris restructures they would do well to re-focus their efforts on a limted product assortment of their best selling styles.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 9:04PM
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I've recently picked up some hard rock maple items at local resale/junk stores. Looking at ebay, there is quite a market for the pieces...

Maybe someone should start recreating this old stuff in classic patterns?

Check out Tell City Chair Company. Ethan Allen Circa 1776, Sprague & Carleton for some examples.

A quick look on ebay shows some very nice HH pieces mostly in cherry or mahogany. I haven't been able to inspect any pieces firsthand, but I'm sure they are well-crafted. But do they look to be built in the same mechanized manner as cheaper pieces from overseas? And, the styles are very traditional, but do they look to be the same styles other, cheaper manufacturers are also building?

I love beautiful woodwork and nice items for my Victorian house. I like finishes that enhance the grain of the work as opposed to having been sprayed in a paint booth. My two gripes with today's furniture makers is that it seems to all be very trendy and today's latest fashions, or much of it mimics the same traditional "updated" styles with little variance.

I recently bought an old Victorian twin bed frame at a resale store with terrific leaf carvings on it (pictured). Several other shoppers were also eying it. Why can't we find such items being made today for the prices being charged?

I'm just offering my 2 cents worth as an amateur woodworker and enthusiast of fine woodworking. Maybe some of this will make it's way to a planner or designer somewhere....


    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 12:51AM
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Henkel Harris is reopening under new ownership. Keeping operations in Winchester and looking to rehire as many employees as possible. Glad this deal got done: http://www.nvdaily.com/news/2013/03/national-fruit-buys-henkel-harris.php

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 1:35PM
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Great news.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 1:48AM
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Henkel Harris is now accepting orders again. Production starts in April. Glad the signs pointing to this outcome came to be.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 12:01PM
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Fantastic news! It would be a crime if the US economy would let such a fine company go out of business.

"But do they look to be built in the same mechanized manner as cheaper pieces from overseas? And, the styles are very traditional, but do they look to be the same styles other, cheaper manufacturers are also building?"

The questions could be easily answered just by inspecting or owning ONE piece of Henkel Harris.

Nothing built by oversea or even by 99% of American manufactures could even come close to the superb quality of Henkel Harris pieces.

The top quality of material they use, the accuracy of the furniture they re-produced after the famous American period pieces, the legendary finishing they created, and the outstanding craftsmanship presented in every single piece make Henkel Harris a fine example of American made furniture.

In my humble opion, today's Henkel Harris pieces would be tomorrow's fine, collectible antiques.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 3:27AM
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I should point out that in no way was I questioning the quality of the furniture made by HH.

But, as a fine furniture enthusiast and a business person, I simply wonder if there are too many cheaper quality (and price) items that look similar to HH pieces easier for shoppers to find in stores? Or easier for shoppers to find? Does one have to seek out HH pieces to find them to look at?

A quick check on ebay shows quite a few HH pieces that appear to be newer being sold by an antique dealer or two. since when did 2000 built furniture become antique? Not to judge, but they may have the wrong clientele coming in and thus not be selling them well.

I'm meeting up with a friend tomorrow who owns an antique mall, I'll ask her and what her take is on this.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 11:44PM
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