Ten years ago, 12 local families bought the 116-year-old custom upholstery furniture manufacturer. Today, the privately-held company is thriving. Known for its design-oriented, high-quality, custom designs, its competitive pricing and quick delivery, Norwalk’s products are widely distributed to a national and increasingly international market.
The company’s recent success can be attributed to the close-knit, local culture that it operates within on a daily basis, said Dan White, Norwalk’s CEO.
“From the very start, the executive team was tasked with finding ways to build jobs in our local community, to embrace sustainability and to be a supportive community citizen,” he said. “Our whole organization has a genuine appreciation for the history, the culture and the ‘second chance’ opportunity that we were given in 2008.
“It is that passion and a relentless drive to succeed that has enabled us to create our own community, and by doing so, build an infrastructure for our future.”
Giving back to the community is a key pillar of the company’s core values. Norwalk Furniture works to provide hundreds of jobs in the local area, including many generations of artisans who carry on the traditions of their parents and grandparents.
“We have master craftsmen and women who have been here for 20, 30 or 40 years,” White said. “To ensure these invaluable skills remain strong in our community, we developed an apprenticeship program so younger people can work with them and learn their craft.
“In the spirit of giving back and supporting our local community, this weekend’s celebration was designed to honor the dedication and commitment of our employees and the services they provide to support our growing customer base of retailers and interior designers,” he added.
In addition to providing jobs and investing in future career opportunities for the younger local workforce, the company also utilizes local services to support its operations whenever possible. Raw materials and component parts used in manufacturing its upholstery products are sourced locally to support neighboring local businesses. For example, some of the company’s seat springs are sourced from Indiana and many wood frame parts come from the Amish factories local to the area. Local trucking, accounting, insurance and other support services are also utilized on a regular basis.
Highlighted by horse-drawn carriage rides in honor of the 116-year legacy that began in 1902 when the Gerken family — founders of the original upholstery company that eventually became Norwalk Furniture — came to America to make buggy seats for carriages, the carnival-themed celebration featured all local vendors.