GREENSBORO, N.C. — With the tagline "The Furniture Capital Of The World," it's no surprise furniture manufacturing is one of the biggest industries in North Carolina.
In the past few decades, however, there's been a shift as tens of thousands of jobs leave the state. Between 1999 and 2009, North Carolina lost more than half its furniture manufacturing jobs.
Susan Medlin was one of those workers.
“There’s not as many jobs in ... furniture. A lot of furniture is still made in the United States, but not in this area in the capacity that it was. So those job opportunities are not there. Back years ago, you go work at one furniture factory something happened, you could leave that day, have a job at another furniture factory the same day," Medlin says.
She worked at Stanley Furniture's Lexington plant that shut down in 2008. She went to school, and got a job at Davidson Davie Community College.
There are still, however, around 36,000 furniture manufacturing jobs in the state. That's the largest number in the country, according to the N.C. Department of Commerce.
Sean Lovell works for Lancaster Custom Crafted Upholstery. He's been in the industry for over two decades. He started by loading trucks before finding his niche in upholstery.
He's had to keep his eye on trends.
“When I was at Drexel Heritage they kind of went out of business a few years after I left, and I saw the changes that were happening. So I decided to make a move. I kind of saw it coming,” Lovell says.
The shift has also come in the rise of furniture sales. High Point boasts the High Point Market, which brings in around 75,000 each year from all over the world twice a year. It's the largest furnishings industry trade show.
Even with all the changes he's seen over the years, Lovell has high hopes for the future of the industry, because of the talented craftsmen he knows and works with.