Q: How did you get started?

 

A: It was back in 2001, when I was driving back to Maine from a beach vacation on the Jersey shore. I was really dissatisfied with the beach chairs I had. The fabric wore out, the hinges were rusty and there was no place to lean my head back. Those were the drawbacks. I was just thinking to myself, “I should try to build a really cool chair.”

 

Q: Had you designed things before?

 

A: Absolutely not. At that point I just became very excited about it. I visualized myself sitting down in the chair and said, “Oh yeah, comfy.”

 

Q: Have you started businesses before?

 

A: This is my first business venture. I do this on the side. This is not my full-time job. I’m an account director for a national corporate talent management software company.

 

Q: What makes your chair stand out?

 

A: It’s designed and made from the best materials available. So we use hardwood for the frame and then there is Sunbrella fabric for the seat. What makes the chair unique is that drilled throughout the frame are holes in which we lace thin bungee cord. We fasten the seat to the frame using that bungee cord, so when you sit down it’s got a little bit of comfy give to it, almost like a hammock. And it’s got ergonomically shaped arms and the back is high enough to rest your head.

 

Q: Do you make them yourself?

 

A: National Wood Products in Oxford does all the wood products manufacturing. I bring the parts back to my shop and assemble them. We also have the fabric sewn at Fancy Stitchers in Lewiston.

 

Q: How much time do you devote to this business?

 

A: I spend about eight to 10 hours a week on it. The past couple of years, with the economy, has definitely shown a downturn with our sales. Back in ’05, ’06, ’07, we were selling about 500 chairs a year.

 

Q: Do you have any changes in store for the business?

 

A: We’re going to increase our focus on the individual consumer and also ramp up efforts for using the chairs as marketing items, corporate gifts, and also to the commercial hospitality market.

 

Q: Are you coming up with ideas for other products too?

 

A: We definitely want to add to our product line and incorporate a kids’ chair, and also two other versions of the chair that sit higher off the ground — so they’re more of a patio line — and also get into outdoor tables.

 

Q: How did your chairs get on “Scrubs”?

 

A: I sold some chairs to a photographer in LA who said he was going to use them in a photo shoot for Cosmopolitan magazine. He didn’t tell me when, so I spent four months flipping though each issue.  I’m assuming they ended up in someone’s hands who decided to use them on “Scrubs.” There was a beach scene in which a couple was sort of sitting in them talking to somebody else. They were on for a few minutes. It was pretty cool.

 

Q: Have your chairs made any other cameo appearances?

 

A: Martha Stewart’s Body+Soul magazine. They’re currently on the cover (May/June issue) of Yankee magazine. Every year, something cool sort of comes up where someone wants to talk about them or write about them.

 

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at:

[email protected]