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.
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.
1992. 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 in it and suggest adjustments. I found a set of points to take to the drawing board as givens and drew a rocking chair. When I built that chair in pine, I only had to saw the rockers off and put them back on twice to have the chair I wanted, almost.
Pecan being the state tree, and our market Texas, we started out making only pecan rockers--and got someone's attention.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When Austin joined us. We knew we were going to make it.
2001. Given chairs selling, people working, opportunity presenting, we built a new shop and showroom for the Company.
Kitty and Aaron each stayed on more than 15 years. We miss them everyday.