Vanguard Furniture in Conover, N.C., is celebrating its 40th anniversary in the custom furniture business this year. The company has about 400 workers in its 500,000-sq.-ft. operation, and custom-builds every piece of furniture. After work Jan. 12, the company received an unusual rush order that it had only two days to fulfill.
“It came in as a direct sale to the Obama family for their oldest daughter’s sitting area; I guess the children have different areas of the house,” says Steve Gaddy, manager of the upholstery division of Vanguard Furniture. “They wanted to obtain one of our settees and wanted to get it prior to Inauguration Day so they could have it set in the White House.”
The order came from Anthropologie, a major retailer with whom Vanguard regularly does business. Anthropologie sells clothing, jewelry and objects for the home, both online and at stores nationwide, including a store in the Georgetown section of Washington D.C.
“The piece they selected was one of our most labor-intensive pieces,” Gaddy notes. “There are around 140 buttons and all of them are set by hand and tied by hand. They are in the arms, the back, and the seat, so every one of those has to be applied and tufted down by hand. It takes about 4-1/2 to five hours to do the piece and that’s just the upholstery part of it. That doesn’t include building the frame, finishing the frame with the wood finish, outside trimming of it, packing it out and shipping it.”
Vanguard officials promised to have the settee shipped out by the afternoon of Jan. 15 — five days before Inauguration Day — and they met their goal.
“This was truly a good occasion for Vanguard. We have the highest regard for the Office of the President and when the order came in and they said they needed it [in two days], we said we could do it. Normally our pieces will ship out within a 30-day period after receipt of order and that’s pretty fast in today’s environment. But this was an exceptional piece, so we pulled all the bells and whistles out for this one.”
Contact: Vanguard Furniture, P.O. Box 2187, Hickory, NC 28601. Tel: 828-328-5601. www.vanguardfurniture.com
This article originally appeared in the March 2009 issue.