United Furniture owner who fired all staff has $24M in real estate assets

Since firing 2,700 workers through texts and emails while they slept last week — just before Thanksgiving – the owner of United Furniture Industries, David Belford, has seemingly disappeared.

But he could be hiding out in one of his two homes worth an estimated $24 million, The Post can report.

Belford, 62, currently owns a farmhouse in Mount Gilead, Ohio, which he purchased back in 1991 for $600,000, records show.

The home is a lakefront estate with water views of Straits Lake.

According to Zillow, the five-bedroom, five-bathroom, 4,000-square-foot residence is worth $1,133,800 today.

The entryway to the main lake house.
An aerial shot of the home which shows a pool as well as a boat dock.
An aerial shot of the home shows a pool as well as a boat dock.

Meanwhile, his most prized piece of real estate is an oceanfront two-bedroom, three-bathroom home in Naples, Florida, worth an estimated, $22,870,283, according to Redfin.

Records show he purchased the Sunshine State home back in 2011 for $6 million.

During the pandemic, Florida’s west coast property market has heated up tremendously, boosted by remote work and sunny weather.

The ocean front home was renovated with modern finishes.
The oceanfront home was renovated with modern finishes.

Belford has remained silent since the layoffs of his entire workforce in Mississippi, North Carolina and California. Despite efforts by lawyers and lenders representing axed workers to reach UFI, no one has heard from the company or Belford, sources told The Post.

“No one has heard from the owner. He’s not returning anyone’s phone calls. It’s such a horrible situation,” one insider with knowledge of the situation told The Post.

Philip Hearn, one of the attorneys representing hundreds of laid-off employees, said that rumors have swirled that he is currently in Paris.

“At the instruction of the board of directors … we regret to inform you that due to unforeseen business circumstances, the company has been forced to make the difficult decision to terminate the employment of all its employees, effective immediately, on Nov. 21,” the company said in a message to employees.

“With the exception of over-the-road drivers that are out on delivery. Your layoff from the company is expected to be permanent and all benefits will be terminated immediately without provision of COBRA.”

It’s unclear why the two-decade-old company dissolved its operations so suddenly, but over the summer it fired its chief executive, chief financial officer and executive vice president of sales, according to Furniture Today.

The move also came after Belford quarreled with the company’s board and bankers on whether to file for bankruptcy. On Nov. 20, the day before laying off the entire company, the board filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Jenni and David Belford.
Jenni (far left) and David Belford at an event at their nonprofit camp, Flying Horse Farms.
Flying Horse Farm

Meanwhile, despite his shortcomings, court documents show that Belford has been noted for his philanthropic efforts in past years — while dealing with contentious legal proceedings.

Belford and his wife, Jenni, founded a charity for sick children and donated $10 million to establish a spinal cord injury research center at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center — a Columbus, Ohio, facility named after Victoria’s Secret’s billionaire founder, Les Wexner.

In 2008, he and his wife co-founded the Belford Family Charitable Fund, which supports children’s organizations including Flying Horse Farms, a camp for ill children.

However, Belford has also been named in several lawsuits alleging “fraudulent transfers” of money and “brazen violations” of noncompete agreements, court documents revealed.