CORONAVIRUS

Flexsteel to close Dubuque plant, idling 200

It will exit RV, hospitality markets

Flexsteel Industries plans to close its facilities in Dubuque, seen above, and Starkville, Miss. (The Gazette)
Flexsteel Industries plans to close its facilities in Dubuque, seen above, and Starkville, Miss. (The Gazette)

An Eastern Iowa furniture manufacturer will permanently close two plants, laying off about 370 employees as it drops two lines of business.

Flexsteel Industries will close a factory in Dubuque with 200 employees that manufactures products for the recreational vehicle industry.

The publicly traded company also will close a plant in Starkville, Miss., that produces products for the RV and hospitality industries and employs about 170 people.

In a news release, Flexsteel said its decision to stop manufacturing RV and hospitality furniture was due to rapidly declining customer demand and changing market conditions resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Flexsteel said the two markets already had entered a cyclical decline before the effects of the pandemic occurred.

“It has become clear that what was thought to be a short-term hit to these two already challenged businesses will now extend well into the future and will likely not return to pre-pandemic levels for some time,” said Jerry Dittmer, Flexsteel president and CEO. “This pandemic has been unforgiving to many companies, including ours. We find ourselves making these hard decisions as we attempt to navigate these uncharted business conditions.”

The Dubuque and Starkville plants temporarily were shut down in late March due to sudden drops in demand as many of Flexsteel’s customers shut down in the wake of the pandemic.

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Dittmer said the company will be working with its work force, customers and suppliers to determine a feasible ramp-down plan. While it is anticipated that both facilities could close as early as June, the date may fluctuate sooner or later based on business conditions.

Dittmer said the company will increase its focus on home furnishings, e-commerce and workspace solutions.

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