In 1911 the Surry Chair Company was purchased by a group of investors and relocated to Hickory, North Carolina and became the Hickory Chair Manufacturing Company. The Surry Chair Company's motto was "Chairs Made Better Than Seems Necessary". The new Hickory Chair Manufacturing Company adopted this philosophy and expanded the assortment quickly from just dining chairs to all types of chairs, rocking chairs and sofas becoming the first residential upholstery manufacturer based in Hickory, North Carolina.
During the Great Depression, the Hickory Chair Manufacturing Company merged with two other companies, Martin Manufacturing Company and the Hickory Furniture Company. The new strength of these merged three companies allowed the company to prosper during the difficult years of the depression.
In the early 1930's the Hickory Chair Manufacturing Company pioneered the marketing of reproduction furniture. No company in North Carolina had reproduced an antique at this time in history. An antique English Spool Bed was found in the home of Dorothy Robinson, a descendant of Henry Weidner, the first settler in the Catawba Valley. The Dorothy Robinson collection with this bed and its accompanying suite of furniture was an immediate success at its launch at the Chicago Furniture Market. The tradition of antique reproductions and adaptations had begun at Hickory Chair Manufacturing Company.
During the Second World War, most furniture manufacturing was eliminated so that war efforts could be supported. In 1941, the Hickory Chair Manufacturing Company negotiated with Walter Cross, Sr. the rights to manufacture and market reproduction furniture under the James River Plantation license. These plantations located along the James River in Virginia were the homes of many of America's first presidents and other prominent families. They filled their homes with the finest 18th Century furnishings from England, New York, Philadelphia, Newport and Williamsburg. Due to the war restrictions, no James River furniture was manufactured until 1943. This collection is the oldest collection of 18th Century mahogany reproductions and adaptations in America.
At the close of World War II, prosperity allowed the merged companies to divide. Hickory Furniture and Martin Manufacturing became Hickory Manufacturing Company and the Hickory Chair Manufacturing Company became Hickory Chair Company. Hickory Chair Company manufactured dining chairs and upholstery but purchased its James River Collection wood products from the Hickory Manufacturing Company. This relationship continued until 1967 when the Lane Company purchased Hickory Chair Company.
In 1961, Hickory Chair reissued the James River Collection to celebrate its 50th Anniversary. On February 14, 1962, Mrs. John F. Kennedy announced on CBS that the White House had undergone a massive restoration and that the Fine Arts Committee would locate and acquire period furnishings that would return the historical appearance of the rooms. This created instant demand for antique reproductions for consumers across America and this had a tremendous impact on Hickory Chair Company's growth.
In 1968, the Lane Company began manufacturing the James River Collection for Hickory Chair Company. Early in 1982, Hickory Chair Company opened a wood products factory which allowed it to manufacture its own case goods. This allowed Hickory Chair Company the ability to improve its quality and expand its offerings beyond the James River Collection.
Hickory Chair Company facilities have been added onto over the years. The factories, warehouse, office and showroom today cover over 600,000 square feet. The main location is in the midst of a major renovation that will allow the facility to be much more modern and efficient. The company emphasizes continuous improvement and safety as focuses for all employees. The company's safety record of over 7 million safe hours worked without a loss-time injury toppled the National Safety Board's record that had stood for over 20 years. Employees Dedicated to Growth and Excellence (EDGE) is Hickory Chair's strength. This EDGE has allowed Hickory Chair to reduce cycle time, eliminate waste, improve quality and ship all products quicker. The employees of Hickory Chair Company have always been the backbone of the company through dedication, loyalty and hard work. Our goal is to provide the most fashion forward product that is the best value and quality for in stock immediate delivery.
Today Hickory Chair Company is owned by Furniture Brands International. Furniture Brands International is the largest furniture corporation in the world. Furniture Brands International is a publicly traded company (FBN). Hickory Chair Company has grown from a modest company of 40 employees to a staff of over 500 skilled craftsmen.
As we have entered the 21st Century, Hickory Chair has become more than an 18th Century specialist. Hickory Chair can now offer a breadth of selection that ranges from 18th Century mahogany reproductions from Albert Sack, Winterthur Country Estate and the James River Plantations to Romantic furnishings inspired from Southern France, Italy and the other Romance Countries to Casual Furnishings that are inspired from 19th Century European Arts & Crafts and American Farm antiques to Designer collections by Thomas O'Brien, Mariette Himes Gomez, Suzanne Kasler and Alexa Hampton. In addition, we have created a culture for our employees that foster continuous improvement. Our employees work together to eliminate waste and improve quality. We refer to this as our EDGE - Employees Dedicated to Growth and Excellence. This effort has become an integral part of our company and our success. Our employee efforts have allowed Hickory Chair to enhance our products with enhancements and flexible options while holding the prices for over eight years. All of this means in 2011 we celebrate our 100th anniversary!