Man travels D.C. to N-C, back again

The Lincolnton furniture maker who is working to bring his industry home from China made a second voyage to Washington, D.C., in less than a month.

This time Bruce Cochrane was First Lady Michelle Obama's special guest for President Barack Obama's State of the Union Address on Tuesday night.

Cochrane is president and CEO of Lincolnton Furniture, and after his family furniture company was sold and moved to China in 1997, he recently decided to bring one of the region's lifeblood industries back to home.

"We have an opportunity to bring jobs back to America," Cochrane said in a presentation to the Newton-Conover Rotary Club last week.

"They really are going to come back. People don't realize how productive Americans are. We are producing two and a half times the products in the United States that we did in 1970. .... Made in the USA means more than it ever has."

This month, Lincolnton Furniture produced its first piece of solid-wood furniture, and Cochrane said the Lincolnton facility aims to create 130 new jobs. Cochrane invested $5 million into the operation that is located in the same warehouse his family furniture business once occupied.

Cochrane's trip to Washington, D.C., this week comes after he was invited to Obama's Insourcing American Jobs Forum earlier this month.

"I thought it was a waste of time — a waste of time and money for me to go up there," Cochrane told Rotarians of his first Washington, D.C. trip, "but I was pleasantly surprised at the level of engagement I encountered. There are very talented people up there working to do what it takes for business to succeed."