PEC: Heart of the Hill Country, March 2018
Artist-craftsman Creates Handmade Furniture, Perfects Rocking Chair Design
The Texas Hill Country is a special place — it has the power to bring together people of all ages and all walks of life, and it holds a few surprises, too. Each month, we’ll be highlighting folks and features that make our community special. We call them Hearts of the Hill Country.
Any wood shop can make a table or cabinet, but according to Gary Weeks of Gary Weeks & Company Furniture Makers, not many can make a high-quality chair. In 1992, he saw that as a way to stand out in the market.
“I began with a rocking chair,” Weeks said, “because there’s just something special about its connotation with home and family. It’s an American icon.”
Weeks didn’t set out to build just any rocking chair; he set out to build the best. Starting with a prototype with adjustable elements, he recruited 75 people to provide constructive criticism on the tiniest of details. Based on that feedback, the Weeks Rocker was born.
Weeks sold them at a loss over the next seven years as he learned to make them better and more quickly. In 1999, he established his furniture company, and since then, he, his son, Austin, and their colleague craftsmen and craftswomen have made more than 3,000 rocking chairs.
“People are called to sit in [the Weeks Rocker] because it’s sculpturally appealing,” Weeks said. “The seat is scooped deeply and relieves pressure off of your hips, the arms are pitched, there’s an effortless rocking motion, the back provides lumbar support and, finally, the texture has a sheen, smooth feel unlike any other.”
Weeks has also ventured out to create other household furniture staples like dining tables, dining chairs, bar stools, desks, cabinets and more. But his Weeks Rocker will remain the touchstone of his business because it’s not just a piece of furniture: It’s a part of the family.
“We are a family business, and we committed to making something special for families that are going to last generation after generation,” Weeks said. “People will say, ‘They handed me my granddaughter in your chair and it was one of the greatest moments of life.’ That’s important, and it makes our chair important.”