We converted an implement shed on the old Latchford ranch to a wood shop.
There we designed and began to perfect the making of the Weeks Rocker.
With good fortune and good people, we made a business of it.
The Shop in the Shed
1986. The roof was falling in. I jacked it up, fixed the leaks, built some big doors, ran wire, ran pipes for dust collection, and moved in my machinery. Luckily, there was a concrete floor: soft, rough, and not flat or level...but not dirt.
This shop supported a design, building, and contracting business while I built some custom furniture and searched for a signature piece of furniture to anchor a line of production. When I found it, we refined the design and the making of the Weeks rocking chair and Wilson dining chair in this building.
An Early Chair Design
1990. For a patron whose house we added on to, I designed and built a set of dining chairs. Sanding until bedtime, I swore I'd never build another chair. One of these chairs and I were shown in the Wimberley View newspaper as a feature on the tour of artist studios.
The Weeks Rocker Design
In spite of my rash vow, I returned to chair design, figuring that any other backyard or commercial shop could build a table or cabinet, but few could build a chair.
I built a fitting booth with adjustable elements and invited dozens of people to sit and suggest adjustments. We found a set of points to take to the drawing board as givens, and I drew a rocking chair. When I built that chair of pine, I only had to saw the rockers off and put them back on twice to have the chair I wanted, almost.
A Surprise Early Success
Pecan being the state tree, and our market Texas, we started out making only pecan rockers--and got someone's attention.
The Rocking Chair Making
Between contracting and carpentry jobs, we'd make a few rocking chairs and try to sell them. I figure they cost us $1500 to make. I priced them at $800. They were hard to sell, but enough did that we got better and faster at the making. Slowly the cost came down to equal the price.
After the chairmaking became worth doing, a friend asked how we capitalized this business. I hadn't realized that was what we had been doing--capitalizing the chairmaking business by nibbling at our savings and working at night--at the time, I just thought we were working hard and losing money.
The Rocking Chair Selling
We advertised in Texas Monthly Magazine, rented a booth at Whit Hanks Gallery in Austin, and hauled chairs to art shows.
1994. We had a Chamber of Commerce Ribbon Cutting.
The Patrons Have Been a Great Pleasure
People who invested in our rocking chairs became ambassadors, fans even, so that we got a great deal of pleasure from the clientele and a confidence that this might be worth doing.
The Internet Made Us Furnituremakers for a Global Clientele
At a show, a fellow said, "These are extraordinary rocking chairs. Something will happen to make this endeavor really work for you." He suggested it might be celebrity endorsement (still waiting), press that hits a vein (only capillaries so far), and other possibilities. Neither of us imagined the internet.
1998. We built a website. While the chatter for obtaining good ranking was "Get links" and try this or that trick, webmaster Jim Fish and I determined that we would try to be coherent in outline, clear in prose, well supported by images, and thorough in presentation--no tricks. We ranked. Our market became the world and our business worth doing.
Developing the Character of this Business
Tami, Noah, Randy, Jon, Jack, and Kitty worked in that shop at one time or another. It is hard to imagine our evolution in efficiency, workmanship, safety, fit, finish, focus, and success without them. They invested more than we could return. We are honored and grateful for what they have done for us.
A Family Business
When Austin joined us. We knew we were going to make it.
We Built a Shop
2001. Given chairs selling, people working, opportunity presenting, we built a new shop and showroom for the Company.
Particularly Distinguished Alumni
Kitty and Aaron each stayed on more than 15 years. We miss them everyday.