Servant Leadership Yields Well Crafted, American Made Design at Hickory Chair

hickory chair bar stool

Ilsa Counter Stool from Hickory Chair

By Trish Holder

One of the highlights of my fall Furniture Market experience was touring the Hickory Chair showroom. And while my American Made Décor Pick-of-the Week is in fact a chair, I found so much more to appreciate about this company besides its distinctively sleek approach to classic furniture design.

Personally, I experienced a lot of “I want this and I want that” while walking the 25,000 sq. ft. showroom in High Point, NC. From dining tables to upholstered dressers (yes, I said upholstered dressers), there was a lot of visual intrigue. But Hickory Chair Furniture Co., founded in 1911, is a special company for reasons besides its furniture, 90% of which is made in Hickory, NC.

Employee Collaboration and Servant Leadership
“We have a culture of continuous improvement and servant leadership,” said Laura Holland, Director of Marketing Services for Hickory Chair.

“We collaborate between our licensees, product designers and craftsmen to perfect form and comfort while engineering the product so that the pieces move efficiently through the countless operations necessary to make a piece.”

Perhaps it is Hickory Chair’s “servant leadership” approach that is partially to thank for 86 new furniture artisans and craftsmen the company hired in 2012 and the 40 more it will hire in 2013. Something’s definitely working for Hickory Chair.

I was witness to the painstaking attention to detail as I toured the showroom. It’s what drew my attention to the Ilsa Counter Stool with the figure-8 panel inset, our Greenspiration Home American Made Pick-of-the-Week. I loved the graceful addition of woodwork to this classic upholstered chair. It’s just enough of a statement to make the simplest of dining rooms shine. This design, available in various stool and chair heights, has a wide range of upholstery options from leather and microfiber fabric to fine, American-made wovens.

Business (and Sustainability). Well Crafted.
Hickory Chair has a lot to be proud of this year including being the recipient of Hickory’s first “Business. Well Crafted.” award, earlier this month. The award was created by Hickory’s Business Development Committee to recognize businesses and their employees who have made long-term contributions to the wellbeing of the city.

Hickory Chair has also made some pretty serious commitments to sustainability by keeping their registration status current with the Enhancing Furniture’s Environmental Culture (EFEC) and Sustainable by Design (SBD) initiatives, both of which prescribe environmental stewardship practices for manufacturers. These practices include weekly communication with various departments about recycling, repurposing and eliminating waste from the design and manufacturing of each piece of furniture.

“We track water and power use averaged by employee instead of the mass – this way you have a great focus on real use, not by the fluctuating of business or growing number of employees,” explained Ms. Holland. “If you have 86 more people you are using more energy and water, but if that number is going down per employee then you are winning the battle!”

And fighting the good fight.

1 Responses »

  1. Nice piece Trish. Always looking for great chairs and companies that look to the triple bottom line.

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