After months of national media attention, Bruce Cochrane, owner and CEO of Lincolnton Furniture Company, has experienced arguably the highest honor yet after being invited as a guest of the first ladyâ€™s for Tuesday nightâ€™s State of the Union address in Washington, D.C.
Having previously attended an â€œInsourcing American Jobsâ€ forum at the White House on Jan. 11 because of his efforts to invest in America, Cochrane has offered renewed hope, both locally and across the nation,Â in the revival of domestic manufacturing, following years of foreign competition.
And his is a story that many, including President Barack Obama, are gladly emphasizing.
Nonetheless, Cochrane told the Times-News Thursday that he was still surprised to have been asked to attend the presidentâ€™s speech.
â€œI was honored to have the opportunity to go,â€ he added.
He received his invitation and additional information regarding the event this past weekend, which didnâ€™t leave Cochrane a lot of preparation time. In fact, he had to fly straight to Washington from Texas after visiting a customer there on Monday.
Despite the tight schedule, Cochrane said Tuesday was â€œquite an evening.â€
â€œItâ€™s just not a part of a routine in your life,â€ he said when asked if he was exhausted following the weekâ€™s activities.
His night started around 5:30 p.m. with a tour of the East Wing of the White House, including a reception and the â€œopportunity to wander through the East Wing rooms at leisure,â€ he noted.
All the guests in attendance were individually greeted by first lady Michelle Obama prior to heading over to the Capitol shortly before 8 p.m. While seated in her box, Cochrane was able to watch various representatives, senators, justices and the Joint Chiefs of Staff mill around in advance of the president making his entrance.
He noted that the Capitol chambers are much smaller and more crowded than they appear on TV.
â€œIt adds perspective to the night and what actually happens,â€ Cochrane said of being there in person.
Following the State of the Union address, Cochrane said they had photographs made and returned to the White House, where they collected their own guests who had viewed the speech in the theater room. They then departed around 11:30 p.m.
The next morning, Cochrane also met with U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., at her office, where she hosts â€œCarolina Coffeesâ€ for North Carolinians visiting Washington every Wednesday when the U.S. Senate is in session. She had called him to arrange a meeting while he was in town.
After visiting with Hagan, Cochrane said he left for home.
â€œIt was a good trip,â€ he added.
Up next in the national spotlight for Cochrane is an appearance on an NBC-News program.
A â€œRock Center With Brian Williamsâ€ segment on Lincolnton Furniture Company that was originally scheduled to air earlier this month, but was postponed, is now slated for Monday. The segment, which highlights the growing trend of products â€œMade in America,â€ was filmed locally in November and should air at 10:30 p.m., with the hour-long show beginning at 10 p.m.
Having now met with President Barack Obama twice in the past month, Cochrane believes a visit by the president to the Lincolnton area before Septemberâ€™s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte may be likely.