We first saw some large, Amish-crafted wood tables when visiting some friends in New Jersey
Ann Arbor, MI (PRWEB) July 26, 2006
Computers, cell phones and the Internet may have revamped the home from kitchen to bedroom, but thousands of years have done little to alter the family table. Its brush with modern life has only slightly downsized this essential home fixture. Now Ann Arbor’s Amish Tables is bringing togetherness back into the home by marketing and distributing dining room tables that are super-sized.
The company, founded by Ann Arbor entrepreneurs Wladyslaw and Nell Narowski and run for 11 years out of their home, has expanded during the last year to offices at 4844 Jackson Road. This week, the company introduced its new spin-off company, Amish Furniture Home -- http://www.amish-furniture-home.com -- to supplement its dining room repertoire with high-quality wood furniture for the living room, bedroom, and office.
“Especially in today’s fast-paced, fragmented modern-day society, families need a place to come together. We’ve found a way to address that need and market to families who want to bring family life back,” says John Paul Narowski, vice president and sales manager.
Amish Tables was originally called “Family Industries,” because Wladyslaw and Nell envisioned a company that would first sell furniture, and then perhaps expand to other services, intended to make family life easier and more fun.
“We first saw some large, Amish-crafted wood tables when visiting some friends in New Jersey,” explained Nell. “They had a good-sized family and had intentionally moved so that they were friends with their neighbors. Several families had actually purchased large tables and were sharing leaves. We saw how much activity revolved around these large, adaptable tables.”
Intrigued, the couple bought one of these tables when they had three young children and discovered “how much we used our table for everything from science projects to family gatherings.”
The company’s original supplier came from Wladyslaw’s friendship with Amish furniture makers from Pennsylvania. He admired the Amish fine craftsmanship, simple lines and the value the group places on family and community life, but saw that they might prefer a middleman to market their furniture.
“The Amish know how to make beautiful furniture—they’ve made it one of their specialties. They are less interested in handling the marketing and distribution,” he explained.
The Amish movement, founded in Europe in the late 17th Century by Jacob Amman, attempted to restore early practices of the Protestant Mennonites. When Amish believers migrated to the United States in the 18th century, they sought to preserve some elements of their community culture by avoiding the adoption of many elements of modern culture.
Their standard Amish tables can expand to 10 feet and the largest to 19 feet to seat up to 22 people. The tables come in four types of hardwood—red oak, quarter-sawn white oak, cherry and maple—and are available in mission, traditional and contemporary designs. Chairs are custom-designed in these styles as well.
Ken Sharp of Ann Arbor said that when Amish Tables began about 10 years ago, he and his wife Linda purchased one of the first ones. “We needed a large sturdy table because we have a really large family -- 17 children.” He said they are still using the table and it is still in good shape. “One of the kids broke something on the underside of the table and Amish Tables arranged for its repair. We are very happy customers.”
Bob Feinberg and Maggie Drucker, who live with their three children in New Jersey, looked for a large table for a long time.
“We entertain a lot and live in an arts and crafts house, so we wanted a mission style table with several leaves,” Feinberg said. His wife said, “We really did look everywhere. We were using a lousy table for a couple of years because we thought what we wanted was really out of our price range.”
Finally, she said, they asked a company that sold mission-style furniture but didn’t carry anything in that size range for a referral. “They recommended Amish Tables,” Drucker said. Although ordering something that large over the Internet was “like a shot-in-the-dark experience,” Amish Tables’ commitment to service and previous customers’ testimonials convinced her to go ahead. “It was so much more magnificent than we even expected. We were very pleased.”
All marketing and most sales are now completed over the Internet, saving on overhead, John Paul said. The oldest, he’s working at the family company with his sister Marianna. John Paul plans to combine this in the near future with finishing his business degree at the University of Michigan. Marianna will take a break while she studies marketing at Michigan State this fall.
Wladyslaw says his son started helping out with the company’s website but was soon needed for more. “John Paul has made it possible for us to grow by developing an efficient customer tracking system. He did everything to position us strategically on the Internet search engines, and to streamline customer service so we can put the personal touch where it is needed most.” He said the company now gets over 10,000 hits a month to their webpage.
By combining the power of the Internet with the company’s family-oriented marketing and customer service approach, Wladyslaw says they now have “all the ingredients to sustain and grow a business that sells large tables shippable to any place in America.” They now also market the large tables to businesses for boardrooms and colleges and hospitals, nursing homes and hospices for conference rooms.
“Some of our first tables were sold to people who had 10 children or more,” said Nell. “But now we sell beautiful dining tables to families of all sizes. People remember going to Grandmother’s for Thanksgiving and Christmas and they catch on to how much fun it can be.”
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