THE BROYHILL LEGACY
"The beginning of my family's involvement in furniture dates back to almost 100 years now. I've been intrigued by that portion of my family's history and the heritage associated with it."
HOW IT STARTED
Who is J.E. Broyhill?
From its humble beginnings in 1926 as a North Carolina-based, family owned chair-making company, Broyhill Furniture Industries, Inc. grew steadily under the leadership of its founder, James Edgar Broyhill (known as "Ed"). Nearly a century later and despite its massive growth, Broyhill Furniture Industries has stayed true to its reputation of affordable, quality furniture lasting for generations to come.
Broyhill Furniture Industries Sales Force
J.E. Broyhill, Founder of
Broyhill Furniture Industries
Broyhill Furniture Industries Senior Management
The Broyhill Furniture Legacy:
An American Success Story
At the age of 27, Ed became a salesman, bookkeeper, and clerk for his brother's furniture business. Tom Broyhill had started out producing single pieces of furniture, but had moved into the marketing of multi-piece coordinated bedroom suites in 1920. Three of these pieces - a chair, rocking chair, and bench, were supplied by another manufacturer. In 1926, the company that manufactured these pieces was destroyed by a fire. Seeing an opportunity, Ed Broyhill took out a loan for $5,000, using his house as collateral, and founded Lenoir Chair Company, named after the North Carolina town where it was located.
Broyhill started his company by buying a number of chair frames, which he planned to upholster in his basement. Soon a blacksmith and buggy shop near the railroad tracks became available, and Broyhill moved his operations to that location. The chairs were finished in the buggy shop and upholstered in the dirt-floored blacksmith shop. In the summertime, upholstering work was done in the shade of a sycamore tree out back.
After two months, Broyhill took over a small ironing board factory across the street, and used the woodworking machinery he found there to make his own chair frames instead of purchasing them. In June of 1927, the fledgling company expanded its physical plant further when it built a two-story building on the site of the old blacksmith shop, which contained space for upholstering, packing, and shipping, as well as two small offices. Throughout this time, Ed Broyhill continued to work full-time for his brother's company. By the end of its first full year in business, the company had produced more then $150,000 worth of furniture.
Ed Broyhill joined with his brother Tom, who owned the Lenoir Furniture Corporation, to buy the Harper Furniture Company, another local business that made colonial-style bedroom suites, secretaries, and desks, in 1929. With a more diversified line of products, the Broyhills hoped to gain access to a greater number of sales outlets. Later in that year, however, they came to regret their hasty expansion, as the stock market crash brought on the Great Depression.
Hard times, not surprisingly, caused a constriction in furniture sales. Despite the general economic difficulties, however, the Lenoir Chair Company's sales increased every year throughout the 1930s, pushed by the efforts of the company's sales force, which numbered 16 men by the end of the decade. Ed Broyhill continued to sell furniture both for his brother's company and his own up through 1938.
By the end of the 1970s, Broyhill sales had reached $265.2 million a year. The company ran 20 factories with more than 7,500 employees.
The company, which had previously made acquisitions, turned the tables when it announced that it would be purchased by another company. Broyhill's new owner was St. Louise-based Interco, Inc., a manufacturer of shoes and clothing which had recently purchased another furniture company, Ethan Allen, Inc. In August 1980, Interco purchased Broyhill and the company used Broyhill and Ethan Allen as the foundations of their furniture and home furnishings group.
The Broyhill Family Timeline dates back to the birth of James Edgar Broyhill, the founder of Broyhill Furniture Industries and extends
to the birth of the JB by James Broyhill founder, James T. Broyhill II.