Quality, expertise live at Autumn House

Dec. 22, 2013 @ 08:20 AM

Autumn House opened for business in 1978 on a small exit off Interstate 40 in Icard, making mostly skateboards.

Founders Howard Pruitt and Ernie Rosenquist established the company to fill a need they saw in the market for curved plywood, especially among the well-established nearby residential furniture companies.

In the next few years, they had moved the company into the 100,000-square foot facility that now houses Autumn House’s operations, on Premier Road in Granite Falls, expanding its customer base with those local furniture companies such as Drexel, Broyhill and Henredon, said Mark Burroughs, vice president of sales.

Today, Autumn House mostly manufactures curved plywood chairs and tables, customized for each order, with 49 employees operating 20 large hydraulic presses and five automated routers.

Now, the company produces products “from the casket industry to the R.V. industry and everything in-between,” he said, but mostly seating, with a number of different types, including two-position dorm chairs, restaurant seating and special-order seating.

About 90 percent of Autumn House’s orders come from repeat customers, a testament to the quality of the company’s products, with the remaining 10 percent coming from special orders, Burroughs said.

Each piece that Autumn House creates is custom-made; the company manufactures no stock items, Burroughs said, with raw materials purchased only after the company receives the order.

Quality of the finished product is what sets Autumn House apart from other similar companies. Specialty pieces are hand-sanded after being made, which leave the facility ready to be finished and installed by the customer.

The company gets its hardwood veneers from suppliers in Alabama and Georgia, pulling the softer woods from Pennsylvania and New York, using maple, cherry, poplar, gum, walnut and oak veneers.

Autumn House can bring a piece from conception to reality, working from drawings to create prototypes and then a finished product.

Ninety percent of the finished products are shipped east of the Mississippi River, Burroughs said, and while not currently exporting its product out of the country, Autumn House is working to gain a foothold in the Canadian market, Burroughs said.

Like most companies that were dependent on nearby furniture operations, Autumn House had to adjust when a lot of that industry began to move overseas, Burroughs said, branching out to find new customers.

It takes a certain set of skills to do the work that Autumn House requires, he said, aligning closely with furniture manufacturing, with a lot of machinery.

Currently, Autumn House isn’t hiring, but is always looking to expand into new markets and find new business, Burroughs said, and many employees have been there for long time, with the company seeing little turnover.