McCONNELLSVILLE — The former CEO of the Harden Furniture company, which has ceased local operations, hopes to buy its intellectual property including the brand name and restart a furniture-making business on a smaller scale.
Greg Harden, who had been the fifth generation of Hardens to head the 175-year-old company, said Monday “I have an interest in acquiring the name, but if I choose not to or am not successful there is nothing that prevents me from starting a new business.”
The Harden brand name and intellectual property including product designs are owned by Big Shoulders Capital of Illinois, which bought various Harden company assets at an auction last January. The Harden plant continued operating sporadically this year while financial struggles continued, but shut down about two months ago. Its equipment has been sold at an online auction, while a liquidation of products and parts was held earlier this month.
Greg Harden, who still owns the plant complex itself, said Big Shoulders “has not advised me of a date” for the sale of the Harden company’s intellectual property. He added “they did say...there is a lot of interest on the part of several parties.”
Greg Harden referred to “a number of Harden employees — really talented people — who have started their own businesses and I might find a way to pull some of them together and restart the Harden brand. Very limited — very custom — do what we did best.” He commented “we had great people and their skills are unique. No one could do the woodworking, finishing and upholstery work we did.”
The Harden company could not support a workforce that totaled over 500 at its peak plus a 400,000-square-foot facility “with the custom part of our product line — that was the only segment where we did not have to compete on price and where we had a strong niche,” he commented. “No one in the U.S. could do what we did, but it was not enough volume to absorb the fixed costs of the operation.” Larger-volume segments of the business faced difficulties competing with foreign companies including product pricing.
Greg Harden, who owns an LLC that owns the company inventory including products and parts that were in the recent liquidation sale, said “we still have a fair amount of inventory and we’ll sell off lumber and other materials for the next few weeks.” He noted “people can stop in anytime during the week if they have an interest.” He also remarked that some parts and other materials are being given away, adding “we have a ton of work benches that are free to anyone who wants one.”
As for the plant complex, Greg Harden has been working on a potential sale of the site.