If you started a made-in-America furniture design business during the financial doldrums of 2009, and have since grown from working out of your house to a dozen-person operation in a 20,000-square-foot facility, you're doing something right. And what Greg Hankerson is doing right is creating very specific furniture that a lot of people want.
Hankerson founded Arizona-based Vintage Industrial, a company making desks, tables, seating, shelving and more, all of it looking like it was pulled out of a French factory from the 1920s.
Amazingly, Hankerson started the company in his late '30s with zero furniture design/building experience; his wife needed a table for their patio and Hankerson, who was hosting websites for a living, figured he could save them a few bucks by making one. Having learned to weld from his motocross hobby, he cobbled together a welded base and a repurposed oak top. That piece finished, he then became obsessed with creating improved versions.
By late last year the company was operating out of a 6,000-square-foot space on a 6 to 10 week lead time, and Hankerson wrote that "Business is good here, almost out of control." Since then they've more than tripled in square footage as the work keeps coming in.
The thing that brought Hankerson to my attention: The guy not only makes furniture, but goes so far as to make his own retro iron factory-style casters. Coming in both flanged and threaded versions, they have optional old-school brakes but modern upper and lower ball bearings that will support up to 900 pounds each.
Check out Vintage Industrial's deep product line-up here.