Office furniture maker ending Indiana operations; 365 to lose jobs

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An Indiana manufacturing company that makes office furniture is planning to close beginning in January, ending employment for about 365 workers.

Paoli Inc. will begin shutting down its corporate campus in Orleans in phases beginning in January and permanently close by the end of next October, the company said in a notice to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development dated Oct. 7 and posted Wednesday.

The company operates a six-plant campus in Orleans with 1.2 million square feet of manufacturing space. Orleans is about 90 miles south of Indianapolis, between Bedford and Paoli.

Muscatine, Iowa-based HNI Corp., the parent of Paoli Inc., told the Times-Mail of Bedford that it planned to move manufacturing processes in Indiana to HNI companies in Iowa, North Carolina and New York. HNI acquired the company in 2004.

HNI said it would offer severance packages and try to help employees with the transition.

Paoli Inc. has a long history in the Orleans area, dating to 1926, when it was formed as a consolidation of the Orleans Cabinet Co. and the Paoli Furniture Co.

Originally located in Paoli and called the Paoli Chair Co., the company became the largest manufacturer of occasional chairs in the world by the mid-1950s.

The company moved into office furniture production in the 1970s and was sold to Klaussner Furniture Industries of Asheboro, North Carolina, in 1988. Klaussner moved all of its production and administration to larger facilities in Orleans in the 1990s.

HNI Corp. is the nation's second-largest office furniture manufacturer. It said in September that it expected future office furniture sales to be “lower than expected due to overall softer than anticipated demand, subdued small business confidence and lower than anticipated project activity.”

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