Take A Tour Of Lee Industries

We love celebrating Southern businesses that are doing great things in their community. In our January 2016 issue, we're spotlighting Lee Industries, a North Carolina-based furniture company that values its people above anything else. Watch a long to take a tour of this exceptional sofa factory with the company's late President, Norman Coley.


A lot of the craftsmen's tools are just like a carpenter. And they wrap tape around it. They'll carve them. They'll do all kinds of things and make it unique to them. And, ultimately, it increases their efficiency. So we'll start back in the fabric area and go from there So that 96% of our fabrics are in stock at all times. Fabrics that we inventory and the regular Lee line and we do a tremendous amount of COM, so customer's own materials. We have digital materials of all our fabrics, this represents this fabric here it shows them exactly where to match it. Our cutting operation runs 24 hours a day 6 days a week. Like any other piece of equipment they do have a tendency to break down every now and then. That's what Chris is working on. There's no robot in today's world that I'm aware of that can build one of our pieces of furniture. Chris how you doing? As we use automated cutting technology, it gives the sewers better parts, more uniform parts so they can do a better job. If it's sewn better, then it's upholstered better. Fabric waste goes into one bin. And then this is all recycled, and it goes into automotive insulation, like the insulation underneath the hood of the car or in the roof liner. This is what a piece looks like before it goes into upholstery. We've got the main cover We've got the cushy feel, the back pillow feel, and then this is all the padding that will be used on the arms, the seat, the in back. And you can see how fun it is to fill some of these larger cushions. [MUSIC] This is an area that everybody's always fascinated with from the way they are hand tied. So the waving operation is what this crew does, so they actually put in the support that goes in the bottom of the frame that supports all the springs. So he's just putting on a glaze This is a vintage chestnut finish, which is a distressed finish. Obviously, it takes a lot of hand work just to get one little ottoman finished. So, he's just making sure that everything matches up. And it's positioned it so that the skirt hangs a half inch off the floor. It is truly hand tufted, each one of these buttons Are stuck with a tufty needle, pulled through and tied off in the back. We've got two inspectors making sure the pieces go to gether, making sure everything matches up. Even to the point where we're actually lining up this circle to this circle. Our leather is second to none. We only buy the top leather in the world. And so our leather's special. We treat it as it's special. It's got its own plant. And everybody knows when they see our leather it's the real deal. It's authentic. It's all top grain. It's all aniline dyed. As it patina over time, it's just going to get prettier. Everybody loves the swatch room. This is the playground for designers. This is a template, we're actually doing a nail design on this and so he's marking where every nail goes and he'll come back and hand nail every one. How many nails are in that thing Randy? [LAUGH] A lot. So this is a surge stitch. This is a double needle top stitch. Can you see the size of this needle? We sewing a cushion border. Actually, it's a back cushion. This is a machine that we developed, it's a zig zag stitch. It's pretty self explanatory why we call it a zig zag. I love sewing. There it is on a piece of leather I'm a real stickler as far as stitch length, the kind of stitch, the kind of thread, the kind of bobbin. It's these really unique stitches that really set us apart from everybody else. Most people would never attempt to do that. I said, if we work with some of our suppliers, and we come up with these crazy ideas, they work with us. Because they know we can make it happen. We experiment as we go, and sometimes we get it right sometimes we don't. But between this stitch, and the cable stitch machine which is right there, are some really unique stitches that you can't find anywhere. Anywhere else in the industry. It's kind of our responsibility. That we have to make sure we keep coming out with this great new stuff. Whether it's had a frame constructed. Or how the springs go in. You know, it's a combination. And we look at how everything works together in unison. To make sure that it had a quality, had a sit. And then we have the unique characteristics of that phase. Good morning Jenny. Morning. Morning. How you doing? Morning Steve, how you doing? Great, you? Good. Morning Shirley. How are you? Good, how are y'all doing? Doing fine. You can see how the culture of our associates and the pride they take and the fact that they care about what they do. And this culture's been going on for 44 years and It's not a factory, we don't run like a factory. We respect each other and that respect goes all the way out to our customers, and they respect us for it. On the deck of every piece there's a label that goes on there. I call it our signature of quality, so everyone that has a hand in building that product signs it. And that means that's got their stamp of approval. And when they sign it, they got a smile on their face. Somebody's gonna pick up that cushion and say, Jane sewed this, and didn't she do a good job? In the back of Jane's mind, she's saying, somebody's gonna be happy with what I didn. [MUSIC]
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