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Klaussner Furniture closed its doors suddenly on Aug. 7.

RCC marshaling all forces to help Klaussner employees

ASHEBORO — Randolph Community College (RCC) is at the hub of the activity to help all those impacted by the recent closure of Klaussner Furniture Company.


RCC President Dr. Shah Ardalan said in a recent interview that the college’s aim is to be a beacon of hope to the 884 people who unexpectedly lost their jobs, their careers on Aug. 7. To that end, Ardalan said RCC is partnering with many area resources such the Asheboro/Randolph Chamber of Commerce, Randolph County Economic Development Corporation, NC Works, the Piedmont Triad Regional Council, local governments and more.


Ardalan said the impact has been overwhelming in the workforce. It’s not just a matter of one family member losing a job.


“You had many family members working at the same company,” he said. "In some cases it’s not just one bread winner in a family who is affected. It could be both adults. Even their extended family may have had members who worked at Klaussner and lost their jobs as well. That means you can’t even reach out to those outside the immediate family for help.”


Ardalan said when he and his team began working on a plan of action, they decided the first thing people needed was a place to come.


In a routine plant closure, the company gives a 60-90 days’ notice. Response teams usually go to the company and begin working with affected employees on site.


In the case of Klaussner, employees did not get that courtesy. The company closed its doors on Aug. 7 and sent employees an email stating as much. Employees were allowed to come back to the plant on Aug. 12 to pick up any personal effects. 


An unconfirmed report by a former employee indicated the company did retain a skeleton crew to help with some aspects of the closure beyond Aug. 7.


Ardalan said he has been in contact with some of those affected who have started the process of rebuilding their lives. He said one lady told him she had been a sewer with the company for 14 years. She didn’t even have a resume, he said. She is literally restarting her work life from scratch.


Ardalan said it was apparent to him and his team from the start that extraordinary measures would be necessary to help these people. He said RCC has taken on the commitment to provide retraining programs to the affected employees at no charge, if necessary.


“We will help them to apply for federal and state retraining programs,” he said. “But even if they don’t qualify for those programs, RCC will cover the cost of their retraining.”


Beyond work training, Ardalan said the college is offering counselors to address the emotional and mental toll of such a sudden change, also at no charge. In addition to counselors the college has on site, he said he is encouraging any company in the community that may have services in these areas that they can offer to contact his office.


Ardalan said he understands that the people in this unique group cover a wide range of ages and stages of life. Some are younger and may want to look for new opportunities in different fields. They may even want to take this opportunity to start their own business, using the skills they already have. In that case, he said, RCC has programs on how to start a new business.


Other workers are older and may want to hone their skills to transition to other furniture manufacturing companies. Still others may be close enough to retirement that they need to consider the best way to manage assets accumulated in preparation for that retirement.


“We intend to throw everything we have at this problem,” he said.


Above all, Ardalan said, what it comes down to is the human factor. RCC, in coordination with all of the other agencies involved in addressing the closure, hopes to help people move on, not just to another job, but to another career.


For many, the coming months will be challenging. For those, he offers this bit of hope.


“Keep an open mind about future possibilities. Be flexible,” he said. "We want to get the word out. Our mission is to serve this community. This is my promise. We are not going to forget about you. We will be here for the long term.”


Anyone interested in learning more about the programs and opportunities available at RCC can visit https://www.randolph.edu/kfi/ to get started.


On Aug. 14, RCC began offering daily support services for Klaussner employees at Continuing Education Industrial Center (CEIC) on the Asheboro Campus, Monday-Thursday from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. throughout the month of August. 


Two more job fairs are scheduled for Aug. 22 at the RCC Archdale Campus at 110 Park Drive and on Aug. 29 at the JB & Claire David Corporate Training Center on the RCC Asheboro Campus at 629 Industrial Park Ave.


Those impacted by the closure can also call the college’s Welcome Center for more information at 951-222-8574.