In the late 19th Century, furniture factories were a driving force of Lexington commerce. At the center of this force was the Dixie Furniture Company, which saw many changes since its inception in 1901. It was organized by a group of Lexington business leaders, with E.J. Buchanan serving as the first President. From 1901 to 1935, the small company was known for producing oak and walnut bedroom furniture. However, under the leadership of Henry T. Link, a graduate of the local Yadkin College, Dixie would grow to become one of the largest facilities in the country.
In 1936, Henry T. Link organized a merger between Dixie and the Elk Furniture Company. Then, in 1940, after visiting Henry Ford’s automobile assembly plant in Detroit, Mr. Link revolutionized the furniture industry with the introduction of automatic conveyors and mass production techniques to transfer furniture from one phase of assembly to the next.
During the ‘50s and ‘60s, four separate companies were created, each with an individual specialty. Dixie was mostly known for medium-priced bedroom and dining room furniture; Link-Taylor made high end bedroom and dining room furniture; Young-Hinkle specialized in boy’s bedroom furniture; and Henry Link was known for girl’s bedroom furniture. In 1987, Masco Corp. bought these four companies and renamed them Lexington Furniture Industries.
Over the years, many furniture companies have moved their production overseas in order to lower costs. In 2003, Dixie’s “Plant 1” was not immune to this increasing trend. Today, an inspection station at Brown Street and a shipping facility on South Salisbury Street are all that remain in operation.