Amish craftspeople who still make furniture by hand may seem like a bit of an anachronism in today’s marketplace, which is rife with cheap, imported goods. The executive team at Borkholder Furniture is a bit old-fashioned in another way too. They value great design. And most of all, they value people.
Never was this more obvious than during a two-day event this summer held at corporate headquarters in Nappanee, Indiana. Hosted by parent company, Kountry Wood Products, Kustomer Appreciation Days brought dealers together from across the country for golf, networking, tours of the (awesome!) Kountry Wood Products plant and a celebratory dinner during which top performers were recognized, thanked, and roundly applauded for their hard work and continued support.
“This event reminded me of the ‘old days’ in the furniture industry, when seriously investing in simply appreciating the customer was the norm, not the exception,” says Tom Halvorsen, vice president, Borkholder. “It harkened back to what our industry was like many years ago, when time was devoted to building, and celebrating, real relationships.”
Among those in attendance at the event for the first time was Furniture/Today editor Tom Russell, who documents his trip in two, wonderful accounts: http://www.furnituretoday.com/article/534374-5-Observations-about-visit-to-Borkholder, and http://www.furnituretoday.com/article/535169-borkholder-adopts-parent-companys-efficiencies. We were thrilled that Tom took the time out of his busy schedule to join us, to get to know some of our dealers one-on-one, and for us to have the opportunity, to show him, away from the hectic hustle and bustle of Market showrooms, what Borkholder, and Kountry Wood Products are really all about.
One of the most excited attendees, however, was actually a member of the Borkholder team: Furniture designer Catina Roscoe. “It was such a special opportunity to travel with Tom and experience Borkholder and Kountry Wood through his eyes,” she says. “All of us were speaking from our hearts because we love what we do and we love our industry. It was really a special opportunity all the way around.”
In fact, she says, “Furniture designers in our industry are not typically invited to these events. We’re the ghosts behind the products and we’re kept in the background. That’s always been true, but never more so than today because so much of the business is based on price and on copying somebody else’s designs for an even cheaper price. Great design is simply not valued by most companies anymore.
“Yet, here at Borkholder, it’s a different story,” Catina continues, “and that’s even more amazing when you consider that I am, in addition to being a furniture designer, a woman. I was not only invited to sit front-and-center, I was encouraged to share my knowledge, my creativity and professionalism.”
And therein, says Catina, who sits on the board of the American Furniture Designers Association (AFSD), is a lesson for all. “What makes working with Borkholder so special for me—for everyone on the team—is that here we focus on the true purpose and the intention behind the product and we do it knowing we have the full support of the executive team. They respect and value hard work, and because we know that, we work even harder for them!”
Tom Halvorsen and furniture designer Catina Roscoe with Denny Miller, manager of the Kountry Cabinets & Home Furnishings store and Furniture Today editor Tom Russell