David Moser is a practical man.
Trained as an economist at the University of Maine at Orono, he’s also a designer at the cabinetmaking firm his father established in 1973.
His economics background has informed the way he approaches his craft.
“I don’t like to waste anything, material or intellectual,” he says. “And I don’t approach design as a self-serving exercise.”
Instead, he seeks first to balance good design with usability, longevity and manufacturing. Then comes the art.
“Design is not art,” he says. “Art exists to satisfy the creator, but design exists to satisfy everybody else who comes in contact with it.”
Moser works with 140 others at Thos. Moser’s 94,000 square-foot manufacturing facility in Auburn Maine, where each of the firm’s 300 pieces of furniture is hand-made by a single craftsman. Each artisan has a dedicated bench and set of tools.
“There’s one bench, one guy, one piece of furniture, and when he finishes it, he signs it and it goes out to the customer,” he says.
About 350,000 board feet of cherry, walnut, ash, maple and oak arrive at the facility every year. Eighty thousand pieces of handcrafted furniture go out, a nail in none of them.
Hesitant to lay his workers off during the hardest recession in memory, he still was forced to shrink by two rounds of layoffs for 60 workers. Those who remained were kept busy with home building, renovations and polishing up the company’s six showrooms across the nation.
“This cycle was harsh on us – the downturn was so protracted,” he says. “We’re starting to hire back now, but slowly, as it should be, for sustainable, slow and gradual growth.”
The firm used much of its down time to build up its product inventory without specific customer orders. It was a move that kept the Moser craftsmen at work.
That strategy is paying off now for customers along the eastern seaboard, as the excess inventory is being made available in special sales events outside of Moser showrooms. Two have been held so far, in Atlanta and Delaware. Another scheduled for the Marriott at Research Triangle Park in North Carolina this Saturday and Sunday, March 23 and 24.
David Moser will be there to give a talk on Saturday at 4 PM. You can bet it’ll be laced with more than a little advice on practicality and fine design.
For more information, call 800.708.9045, or go to www.thosmoser.com
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