The success story of custom furniture manufacturer Whitewood Industries has been the transfer of its ownership to its more than 300 employees. The Thomasville company said Monday it was sold in December to its employees through an employee stock ownership plan program, known as ESOP. It was founded in 1982 by Jorge Mata and Ron Feibel. They will remain in their management positions.

 Whitewood makes customized finished and unfinished solid wood upholstery and wooden furniture. Suggested retail price points for its products include $1,299 for a five-piece dining set and $1,999 for a bedroom group consisting of a queen-size bed frame, dresser and mirror. According to Investopedia, the plan serves as a qualified defined-contribution employee benefit under the federal ERISA program. The plan is designed to invest primarily in the stock of the sponsoring employer. The sponsoring company, the selling shareholder and participants receive various tax benefits.

Mata, the company’s president, said the plan “ensures the company’s long-term financial stability, as it helps align employee goals with company goals and improve organizational performance.” As a result, Mata said, employees “become a financial participant in the success of Whitewood and to help grow the company both in profitability and in efficiency of operations and customer service.” Employees must have been with the company for one year and be at least age 21 to be eligible to be part of the program. The company said 172 employees are participating.

The company has four divisions: Whitewood Ready-To-Finish (unfinished furniture); John Thomas Furniture (casual dining and custom finish programs); International Concepts (a supplier to specialty retailers); and Custom Contract Furnishings (designer/manufacturer contract upholstery).

Read more at  The Winston Salem Journal