Why? … What happened?
Thank YOU for visiting. We really do appreciate it and boy, do we have a story to tell!
It’s been an epic saga of a small but visionary manufacturer fighting to overcome the industry challenges that have decimated so many iconic names, like the legendary Pennsylvania House (here in PA of course); Stanley Furniture; American Futon, MasterCraft and Woodcraft (three other former industry titans in PA), Woodcrest (37 years, father/son, $10M manufacturer, had 100+ employees, building Southern Yellow Pine bunk beds – tragically shut down and liquidated in 2019 by The Bank after one bad year) and so, so, so many others (hundreds if not thousands in 20+ years).
This is tragic as manufacturing, producing products needed or to sell (and farming is the best form of manufacturing as Nature does the really Good Work!), is really the foundation of every prosperous culture since the dawn of man. We can’t export money to import all of the goods that we need forever (trade imbalance), which is why it is so important for our country to rebuild our manufacturing base.
But…in a more sustainable way. A Better Way as we like to say. And our unique lines of affordable, American-made, sustainably-produced furniture and bedding allow our customers to live simpler, healthier lives, while having the satisfaction of saving money, protecting the environment (both in their home and the world) and supporting American green-manufacturing jobs. In addition, we try to source everything we buy from similar, like-minded companies, usually family owned and hopefully multi-generational.
We think that is Revolutionary! At least in our little world, as it is our way of making OUR world better, One Room at a Time…Since 1989!
It’s not just about furniture, it’s about The Way you live. And there is always…A Better Way! And that’s our Mission, to Inspire others to do the same.
So this is the short version of our long story to answer the question: Why?
What happened to that beautiful factory?
The Adventure, the Trials and the Tribulation:
In 2015, after 18 years of ownership, we lost our $2M factory – 3 buildings, 30+ employees and 31,000 sqft. due to an investor deal that we could not repay. Penn State actually ended up owning the property after the investor then gifted it to them and then they sold it for only $1M instead of giving us the option to repurchase (so much for being an alumni). But at the 11th hour, after a month of trying, we struck a deal with Penn State and the new owner to give us 30 more days to try and find funding. Yet just a day later, “the deal” was pulled and we were out on the street. It was a devastating and heart-breaking loss to have to walk away from what all of our employees had worked so hard for so many years to build up. But in the end, it was my fault for us not being profitable enough to maintain ownership. Se la vie.
A half a lifetime of work…gone. The End? Now what?
Thank God however that we were able to retrieve most of our equipment and it took nearly 2 months just to get everything moved out and we filled 13 tractor trailers in addition to 6000 sqft. of nearby warehouse space. We thought there was no alternative other than declaring bankruptcy and closing the store and began advertising another tragic chapter, a store liquidation sale. But with a handful of dedicated employees (An epic thank YOU!!! to Gina, Fari, Greg, Stacy, Mike, Arlene, Roger & Jason), day by day, piece by piece, product by product, month by month, we began to reassemble the shattered and shuttered factory AND we were able to keep our beautiful store open for a few more years. Hallelujah!!
With nearly all of our equipment in storage trailers or without access to high-voltage power, we had to build everything the old fashioned way. With hand tools and jigs, while outsourcing some of our cutting, ripping and moulding needs to a few Amish/Mennonite shops in nearby Penns Valley. What a blessing that was and indeed a pleasure in working with them. Thank you friends! Instead of our 2 CNC machines cranking out hundreds of parts a day, we used a 1920’s vintage, cast-iron pin router, our first in the early 90’s, to do the work instead. Where there is a will, there is a way. Just ‘keep praying (for answers, for next steps) and keep pushing’ is what I would continually tell my employees. That is how we survived from day to day.
And so, week by week and then month by month, over the course of many years, we were able to sloooowly resurrect one product line at a time. Unique products that only we can make and why we have 10’s of 000’s of happy customers from coast to coast and internationally and overseas as well. Products which of course the store had already sold (“but we can’t build those yet”…”You better figure it out quickly” we were told). So with a customer was waiting … so we had no choice but to ‘Git R Done’ or give a refund!
Frustrating, time consuming, complexity, confusion and constant anxiety…on good days was the norm and no heat in the big, vented warehouse, so the first winter (2016) wasn’t easy. But we did it and we continued to try to take care of our customers from sea to shining sea.
However we only had a 1 year lease at our new make-shift, hole-in-the-wall facility, and thus a 2nd location was started in June to prepare for the next major move at the beginning of Nov of 2016. Yet just days after another massive move (out of the temp space and into our new space), fate and calamity struck again. We were shutdown and ultimately force to move out of the shop we just spent 5 months preparing through no fault of our own (as a sub-tenant, we were trying to help out the lessee who was in trouble with the building owner, who then illegally and without due process, locked us both out). Bottom line: Shut down and locked out again! Exactly one year later with holiday orders piling up and no hope on the horizon. Lighting definitely does strike twice. Once to wake you up and the second time to knock you out. Dark times indeed.
But maybe a blessing in disguise?
This 2nd tragic shutdown and the subsequent 3 moves in 3 months (out of the Cavern and into MakeSpace, then out of MakeSpace into warehouse, then ultimately into The Fortress, the new space) ultimately put us into a facility that was far from ideal … but perfect for what we needed. God works in mysterious ways! So the surprise lockout ultimately forced a new, desperate search and we ended up finding a suitable location that had sufficient high voltage power to hook up our big machines that have been mothballed for over a year.
So once again, deja vu, like Ground Hog Day, we kept doing it. Over and over and over again. Moving big machines from location to location, sometimes using two forklifts, renting trucks and flatbeds, setting up then tearing down only to setup rows of 16′ high pallet racking all over again, etc. …and all the while, trying, somehow, to keep track of a thousand moving parts and keep things semi-organized while maintaining the near impossible task of producing parts without the right equipment to take care of customer orders – our ONLY source of cash while defaulting on massive debts. A true testament to the power of Teamwork and Faith – ALL Things are Possible to the One Who Believes.
A special note of the deepest gratitude to all of our dear customers, especially those who have been affected by all of these calamities….Thank You, Thank YOU, THANK YOU!!! Without your financial support and enduring patience and understanding, we would have never made it through. We really do love our customers and will do whatever we must (working tirelessly, day and night) to take care of them. But our apologies to those that sometimes could not wait, and many others that had to wait way too long…we are sorry!!
But each test or trial brought with it new lessons and new blessings which ultimately “helped” in the long run, to improve, cleanup and finalize processes and procedures on our LEAN manufacturing journey. Above all, we are a manufacturer that loves to make our great furniture!
Fast forward to today and we are actively seeking to find an industry partner or investor(s) that wants to be apart of something truly transformative. Our goal, our vision is to redefine sustainability as it relates to American manufacturing but more importantly to make our world a better place to live for our children and the generations that follow. Most importantly, our #1 focus is to help our customers and our employees live simpler, healthier lives with less waste for less money (less is more!). And we do that by giving people better choices.
As Thomas Paine said in 1776, “We DO have the power to begin our world over again”. (Note: January 10 is Common Sense Day, the founders tribute to Paine). And it begins with your next decision, your next purchase. Buy local, buy American, buy sustainably produced products, keep it clean, make it simple, reduce/minimize/eliminate waste, and above all, Make Your Home Great Again – One Room at a Time! A man’s home is his castle and a woman’s home is her Sanctury and we want to help cure whatever room blues you might have.
Say no to Fast Food, Fast Fashions and Fast (cheap, toxic, imported) Furniture. Make your next purchase a reflection of your values, what you believe in and what you want to support. Buy from Main Street owned companies, not Wall Street. Support your community and Be the Change you wish to see in the world. And if for nobody else, do it for the Children, the Next Generation.