Editor's NOTE: A little over a week after a massive blaze at American Furniture in Ecru, more workers went back to work Monday. It was yet another step toward getting back to full operation for a company considered a major player in the region’s furniture industry. WTVA’s Mike Russell went behind the scenes at American Furniture's Ecru production plant, and filed this report.
ECRU, MIss. (WTVA) - It was just 10 days ago that a spectacular fire raged at American Furniture. Last week, the first wave of employees went back to work, about a third of the company’s work force. Monday, the second wave - another 150 workers - went back to their jobs.
From their air, it almost looks like a Hollywood movie set -- the twisted wreckage left behind by that spectacular fire less than two weeks ago. A company representative told me hat about 400,000 square feet of space where finished product is stored and awaiting shipment was destroyed in that fire.
Some workers went back last Monday, they're part of the company's motion-recliner section. Monday, about 150 more of them came back to their jobs in the stationary section of the production line. Nicollete White was one of them
Mike Russell: "When you found out there was a fire and you were going to be off, what was your first reaction?
Nicolette White: "I was worried about not having a job and about not having work. I was really worried, but they got us back fast - in one week - so I'm very thankful."
Derrick Myles works in the same section - and six lines of production opened there. He says he's glad to be back at work as well - and knew that it would be a work in progress.
"We're so excited about it," sais Myles. "We know everything was going to be slow getting everything back up and going, but we're here, and we're proud!"
In the days since the destructive blaze, American Furniture has worked on creatively solving its storage and shipment problem, leasing large amount of space where it's available and putting workers back to work there. One production line manager told me that they've been working 12 to 14 hours a day to get folks back to work. Some of them will go back to work at a newly-leased and configured space in Houlka, until the Ecru space can be cleaned up and made ready for production.
In the meantime, Merchandise Manager Emily Bass says the company's hundreds of customers have been very understanding and supporting. She said she has no doubt that American Furniture will be able to fill orders without much delay.