Summer Classics Bolsters U.S. Production with Acquisition

Bew White with son William White and daughter Wynne White Martin. Photo by Art Meripol

Pelham, Alabama furniture manufacturer Gabriella White LLC — parent company to Summer Classics and other high-end brands — recently announced the acquisition of Stanford Furniture, making a substantial addition to the company’s U.S. production.

Based in Clairmont, North Carolina, Stanford is located in the center of America’s most skilled furniture makers and its largest annual furniture trade market, the Highpoint Furniture Market.

“The quality of upholstered furniture made in the U.S. in that part of the country is better than anywhere else in the world,” says William White, the head of the company’s Gabby line of indoor furniture.

“Highpoint is the largest furniture market in the U.S. It does a significant volume in trade with interior designers who have a retail presence across the country.”

With the Stanford acquisition comes 7,000 square feet of showroom space and brings Gabriella’s total show space to 25,000 square feet.

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According to Gabriella founder and CEO Bew White, the acquisition will add 10 percent to company revenues and add 71 workers to the company’s existing 350 workers.

Bew White founded Summer Classics in 1979. A graduate in textile engineering from Auburn University, he is a great-grandson of Braxton Bragg Comer, founder of Avondale Mills, a textile giant shuttered following the 1970s decline in U.S. textiles.

Gabriella White, the holding company formed in recent years with the expansion of brands, makes much of its company-wide product overseas, including Vietnam, China, the Philippines and, more recently, India. The acquisition of Stanford, founded in 1992, says Bew White, brings the company’s total U.S. production from 30 to 35 percent. It also brings together two family-owned companies with long-range business plans that contrast favorably with an industry undergoing rapid-fire consolidations financed by private equity firms with short-range goals, adds William White, Bew’s son and heir apparent for CEO leadership.

The company’s factory and warehouse in Pelham, in Shelby County, is its headquarters and home to its leading brand, Summer Classics. It also houses the company’s largest retail showroom and an outlet center.

The number of retail outlets has steadily grown to a total of 15, the most recent in Philadelphia. The company also started a contract division that sells directly to hotels, condos and apartment complexes, restaurants, country clubs and assisted-living facilities. This is all part of an ambitious growth plan for Summer Classics to further double revenue in the next six to eight years, says William White.

The holding company expanded its brands beginning in 2010 with the indoor furniture brand Gabby, followed in 2018 by a collection of handcrafted indoor and outdoor pillows under the brand Wendy Jane, created by Bew White’s daughter, Wynne White Martin.

The Stanford acquisition, said Bew White, “symbolizes Gabriella White’s continued focus on becoming an industry leader. Additionally, because both organizations are family-owned, Stanford Furniture and Gabriella White view this as an opportunity to carry forward a tradition of quality.”

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