Monson seeks grant for furniture business

Posted Sept. 04, 2009, at 10:10 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:11 p.m.

MONSON, Maine — The town hopes to secure a $100,000 Community Development Block Grant in an attempt to help Moosehead Furniture, the town’s major employer, weather the continued economic slump.

Monson Town Manager Julie Anderson said the one-time grant, if approved, would help the company supplement its working capital to provide raw materials and support, which in turn would help retain more than 20 jobs. Anderson said the town should know soon whether the grant is funded.

“I hope we’ll get this grant so they can continue with the production of their product and keep as many jobs as possible in the community,” Anderson said Friday.

Dwain Allen, Moosehead Furniture’s general manager, said the company formed in the fall of 2007 and within six months, the country was headed into economic distress, so the company’s sales and revenue expectations were below what had been projected in its business plan. “We have continued to struggle with cash flow,” he said Friday.

The corporation, Tardy-Connors Group LLC, doing business as Moosehead Furniture, formed after Moosehead Manufacturing Co. closed its doors. The new company purchased all of Moosehead Manufacturing Co.’s assets in Monson, including buildings and land, its customer list and product information. The new company produces some of the same pieces the former company made as well as some new products, according to Allen.

Those products have resulted in some “really good” contracts and a return customer base, Allen said. “We feel that as we start to emerge from the recession or financial stress the country’s in, there are going to be more and more people that will be looking for a quality made in the United States product,” he said. These people will be willing to pay for value especially when they can keep the product for years instead of months, he said. “We feel that if we can, through whatever it takes, get through the next 12 months, then we’ll be extremely well positioned to be very successful moving forward. We’re committed to being here, we’re committed to this tremendous work force we have and we’re committed to our product.”

The CDBG is designed for direct business support for gap financing. Allen said the company would use the funds for working capital and capital equipment, including improvements in technology and boiler work. The company’s 100 percent match would be through its contracts, orders and cash, he noted.

Thomas Kittredge, executive director of the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council, assisted the company and Monson in the grant application.

“Hopefully, this is a temporary thing, this is something that will help them bridge a gap and then help them on their way to long-term sustainability,” Kittredge said. “We’re happy to help them to keep them operational.”

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