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#MyNeckoftheWoods Series

Part 3: #MyNeckoftheWoods “Our Home” Series

August 19, 2016

Chris and Ed Eriksen [President] discussing design in the office. Granville, New York

Merging traditional furniture-making with modern concepts in design
and process has been a Manchester Wood staple for 40 years.

“For me building and designing is more about striking a balance, remembering what your goals are, not letting too many details over shadow the beauty of your materials or the functionality of the piece.” -Chris Bowlen, designer and sample maker

Written by Eric Henzie, Marketing Executive

In a post-British rule America, life was difficult. People had few resources, and the country was still being explored and developed. People were led to make do with what they had and they often had to find innovative ways to fix things. Americans began to refer to it as using yankee ingenuity. To this day, using ingenuity to solve a problem, or coming up with new and innovative ideas can be referred to as using old fashion yankee ingenuity. That hands on spirit and way of thinking lives on here at Manchester Wood.

I am sure you’ve had an “a-ha moment” where you suddenly realize there is a clear path forward. It is the point where the nature of the problem gives way to a clear and visible solution. Recently, we embarked on a new design concept. This concept began with a simple angle similar to the angle you would find on a sawhorse. These angles were the basis of a structure. As we constructed the elements around that angle we realized that we had found a unique craftsman aesthetic. That was the beginning of our Herrick Brook Collection (to be shown to you at the end of this series in the coming month).

To the furniture design layperson (namely me) watching Chris and crew working through a new product sample is actually a lot more complicated than it may seem. What I would view as a finished product normally has a two page bullet list of proposed issue resolutions. Our team strives to create products that the end consumer can assemble with ease. This approach is what is defined as design for assembly. This is a process by which products are designed with ease of assembly in mind. If a product contains fewer parts it will take less time to assemble, thereby eliminating any frustration our customers may encounter.

Do you like to create things? Or have a story about someone you care about who does? Is there a specific design or type of furniture you think we should offer? Tell us by commenting to this post, on our Facebook wall or tweeting #MyNeckoftheWoods @manchesterwood

Stay tuned for Part 4…

#MyNeckoftheWoods Series

Part 2: #MyNeckoftheWoods “Our Home” Series

August 14, 2016
Part 2 #MyNeckoftheWoods

Chris working a drill press in the sample area at “the Mill” [Manchester Wood] in Granville, New York

From film-making, to being a ski photographer, gardening, logging, and furniture-making the last 10+ years… Chris gets innovation and creative thinking.

“When I came back home to Vermont from Colorado and Oregon it was about being around my parents and my grandma, as they’re all getting older… I started back working in logging on my friend’s parents land… well, I wouldn’t say it was totally logging. They also asked us to get ‘artsy with it [their land]’ and we used different techniques to grow trees in cool ways…”

Written by Eric Henzie, Marketing Executive

I have come to understand through experience that creativity or any type of innovation really is an ‘inside’ job. It’s a process I call finding your ‘voice.’ What is also fascinating to me and empowering lately is the revelation that it’s really a process. At its source, the creative process is a function of inspiration and personal empowerment. Step by step, every person holds the keys to their own creative empowerment; each of us holds a capacity to define and direct the future and to write our own story.

Chris as a creator and innovator appreciates that the ‘known’ great artists throughout history understand that they are the authors of their own works. By analogy, we are each the authors of the story of our own lives. Chris made a conscious decision to return to his home roots a few years back. He was on a search to find his voice. That search led him from his home state of Vermont to the mountains of Colorado, from Colorado to Oregon, then from Oregon back home.

Home is a word which embraces a very vast meaning. For most home is a place that brings back fond memories, home is the symbol of comfort and wellness. Home serves as a kind of fortress to us, our sanctuary. Home should be the place where you feel secure, free. Home is culture, religion, its friends, relatives, neighbors, and your environment. It is your “neck of the woods”; it is the way of life there, the architecture of neighborhoods houses, the job where you make a living and many other things.

The successful revival of the American built movement is alive and well here at Manchester Wood. The hard working American workers here many who have been around for over 25 years are the descendants of a long line of builders, craftspeople and innovators. This is an extraordinarily uncommon commodity in today’s marketplace. When you purchase 100% American made you have the satisfaction of knowing you support our proud line of master craftspeople that proudly stand behind their workmanship. You support their growth and their lifestyle – it’s #MyNeckoftheWoods

Share your home with us, as we share ours, by using #MyNeckoftheWoods with your comments. Mention us on Twitter (@ManchesterWood), or post it on our Facebook page.

Stay tuned for Part 3…

#MyNeckoftheWoods Series

Part 1: #MyNeckoftheWoods “Our Home” Series

August 12, 2016
#MyNeckoftheWoods Series - Part 1

Chris driving to “the Mill” [Manchester Wood] in the morning from his home in Pawlet, Vermont

When designer and sample maker Chris Bowlen comes to work he’s thinking of the ten different projects in the works…

“I’ve gotta finish our new Herrick Brook Collection… 8 items to complete in 24 hours for a photo shoot… so I’m busy! [chuckles with a smile]…”

Written by Eric Henzie, Marketing Executive

When I started work here, I found a story. I found a story about a proud family-owned business. I found a story about a company that has evolved over three generations. I found a story that I think deserves to be told. I find it entertaining to listen to the company’s history. I find it inspiring.

There is a consistent theme for our team here at the Mill, loyalty. One quarter of the team has been working here for over twenty-five years… Bev since Day One. Our President six months after it started. The median employee tenure is nearly fifteen years. We are very proud of this. Our company’s proprietors, the Eriksen’s view this as an immense responsibility. At the core of Manchester Wood principles… focus on sustaining jobs for American workers.

One of those team members is Chris. Chris, like me is relatively new to Manchester Wood. Chris is a craftsman; He is a talented artist, meticulous designer, a builder and a genuinely interesting guy.

We asked Chris about featuring him for a series of posts over the next month… Some that highlight him; some that highlight all of us and our community here. Because despite all the noise out there on TV, home is still so very important to all of us. It’s where this series of writing proudly starts with #MyNeckoftheWoods.

There are those that love to get their hands dirty, fix or build things. They start their week days with a strong cup of coffee, drive into work, and you wouldn’t be surprised to see them fixated on one of the half dozen additional projects they are working to complete.

Chris has two ‘official’ jobs, and works on pet projects during his ‘free’ time. He started working here last year, while also at a custom furniture artisan in nearby Dorset, VT.

This particular part of America lacks corporate America’s presence, the notion of job juggling stems from the history and geography of the Vermont-New York countryside. From the very beginning of exploration and settlement, people would improvise, innovate and carve one or more livelihoods out of the land up here. The whole tradition of holding multiple jobs goes right back to the beginning. We define ourselves by our strong sense of identity. People who live in this area have a strong sense of self. They identify themselves by their self reliance and independent spirit.

There is a significant amount of skill and expertise required to take a design through each phase of the building process in furniture making.

The team recently embarked on several new projects to develop, and it’s offered up a design Chris and Luke [Eriksen] initiated several months ago. We plan to release their new Herrick Brook Collection at the conclusion of this series of #MyNeckoftheWoods posts.

After you’ve spent time with Chris, you’ll begin to notice that he routinely sketches as he talks about products and ideas. I get a sense that he wants you to see the vision that’s in his head. There is a noticeable drive behind his desire to create. It’s not only that, it’s the drive behind his desire to create change to perfect our design technique here for the next generation of Manchester Wood products.

Stay tuned for Part 2…