The Evolution of Drexel Heritage Furniture
Evolution is a certainty, and necessity, in a company that is over 100 years old. Drexel Heritage is a company that has evolved with the market and economies throughout the years.
In 1903 The Huffman family saw an opportunity. They believed that mass produced furniture, affordable to the general population, was being overlooked by the furniture manufacturers of the time. From family and investors they were able to raise close to $20,000 to begin their furniture business. They chose a location in North Carolina that was served by the Norfolk Southern Railroad. The Huffmans named the town Drexel after a family in Philadelphia they knew that were involved with the railroad. They liked the name so much, they named the new furniture business the same.
The first furniture made by Drexel was a bedroom suite made of oak, comprising a bureau, doubled bed and a nightstand. The wholesale price was $14.50. Mass produced furniture was an immediate hit. The general public responded so well that Drexel Furniture hired their own sales reps around the country. This was a new idea for furniture companies, who up to now used contract salesmen that sold for multiple furniture manufacturers. In-house salesmen were better able to report back to the Huffmans what type of furniture the public was wanting, and of course their loyalty was specifically for Drexel. Decisions were made almost completely on the advice of their professional metropolitan sales agents who designed, priced and sold their furniture.
In 1918, Drexel Furniture added another 20,000 square feet, and they purchased another furniture factory in Marion, North Carolina. By 1922 they had purchased the Morganton Manufacturing Company which was in Morganton and produced the highest quality hand crafted furniture. In 1930, they added another facility in Marion to expand their fine furniture collections. It was the hand crafted fine furniture collections that saw Drexel through the great depression.
Great marketing moves were always behind the success of Drexel. The vice president in the 1940’s, T. Henry Wilson, started advertising the brand in national women’s and home furnishing magazines. It was an advertising first for a manufacturer to do brand advertising. They had always depended on the retailers. It was a genius move as the public started demanding Drexel Furniture from the retail stores.
World War II was hard on most furniture manufacturers, but Drexel Furniture was fortunate to land a government contract to supply office furniture for state side army offices. At the conclusion of the war, Drexel employees hand crafted a walnut desk inlaid with stars and his name in marble for General Douglas MacArthur to show their appreciation of his war effort on the Japanese front. A letter of thanks from the famous general is carefully stored in today’s Drexel Heritage archives.
After the war, Drexel brought David Brunn from New York to serve as their new vice-president. Brunn initiated the “key store” program, which was a successful predecessor to Drexel Heritage’s Gallery Program. Over the objections of most of his senior colleagues, Mr. Brunn brought on Betty Bailey, their first female executive. Ms. Bailey very successfully implemented a program of building close relationships with magazine editors, including House Beautiful. Mr. Brunn oversaw the merger of Drexel furniture and Heritage Furniture, a merger that proved to be exceptionally valuable for both companies. That merger solidified and made Drexel Heritage the epicenter of the fine furniture industry.
100 years of evolution for Drexel Heritage Furniture has taken them from furniture essentials to furniture design inspirations. Today’s Drexel Heritage Furniture commitment is to fulfilling their customer’s desire for custom furniture creations. In addition to almost every Drexel Heritage upholstery product being custom made, they also offer choices of finishes, hardware, and other details. This means that the options to personalize your home are almost endless.
Boyles is proud to partner with Drexel Heritage Fine Furniture and have designers waiting to help you customize your Drexel Heritage furniture selection.Call us at: 888-848-4551 FREE.