Built in the Blue Ridge: Chervan Furniture

By Patrick McKee - Anchor

ROANOKE (WSLS 10) - The furniture industry was once thriving in Southwest Virginia, but started moving overseas in the 90s. Despite that downturn, one Roanoke-based company refused to leave the United States.

Since 1932, Chervan Furniture has taken quality hardwood and turned it into products for the home. As the industry changed, so did the company's product line, now primarily making furniture for businesses.

"We produce primarily seating, primarily for hotels, restaurants, offices and health care environments," explained the company's president, Greg Terrill.

To stay competitive in the market, the company had to reduce the amount of time it took to fill an order.

"We had to change, first, to dramatically reduce lead times. We went from a 10 to 12-week lead time on what we were producing down to a 10 to 12-day lead time," continued Terrill.

On average, the company's 200 workers will produce around 250 chairs a day. Each chair is made up 14 different components. Each of those components takes 15 steps to make.

In any given year, Chervan will make 3,000 to 5,000 different styles of chairs and each chair requires its own tooling and fixturing that the company makes itself.

Those fixtures are made using advanced technology.

The company was the first to bring these machines to America from Italy. There are only 10 of them in the country. Five of them are here.

As you can imagine, there is a lot of scrap wood and sawdust generated in a furniture factory. They take the scraps and put them into the boiler system that's then used to heat the building.

Including the finishing room, where stains are applied and then heat dried.

Margie Odom is a supervisor there and says that it takes a skilled team, working together to get the job done.

"These guys that work with me, I can't do it without them. It's hard some days. but that's just a part of it," said Odom.

The company moved into its current facility about 10 years ago. Because of continued growth, it recently moved its logistics center and foam fabrication operations into a second facility.

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