Friday, February 15, 2008

Introduction to me and my blog

So, I hired this twenty-something, very bright, enthusiastic, and persuasive woman as the marketing director for Hardwood Artisans, and this is pretty much the net result. She convinced me that my writing a “blog” would be a good thing, that people would find it, and thereby hopefully me and the company, interesting. Hell, I don’t even think of myself as being interesting. Over the past few months, however, I have come to find that some people, for whatever reason, think that some of the things I do or say are different, and thereby interesting. We’ll see about that, now won’t we?

I guess I should have prefaced this all with a bit of an introduction, before I cursed and all that stuff. My name is Mark Gatterdam. I am one of six partners that are the current owners of Hardwood Artisans, a local Washington D.C.- based furniture manufacturer and retailer. We have been around as Hardwood Artisans, or The Loft Bed Store, since 1976. The founders, Greg Gloor and Larry Spinks, transfered ownership of the company to the six of us a few years ago. The six of us helped create the organization. All of us came up through the ranks the same way I did. We employ about 70 people throughout the organization, with about 45 – 50 actual craftsmen building the furniture. Sounds like a lot, but we still consider ourselves small, and I am proud to say I know each and every one of their names. It is still a family-based business.

I have been in the furniture industry my entire adult life. I put myself through college working at furniture retail stores in the area. The hours were flexible, and I thought the product was interesting. I decided to get out of the front end of the business, and take a shot at creation. I was making good money, managing a store, but somehow I still felt unsatisfied – the American way, right?

I have worked at Hardwood Artisans for about 21 years. I took a huge cut in pay to come here. I started by building beds. In the blink of an eye, I became a blue collar “ham and egger”. I was very straight laced, newly married, and still working on my college education. I really didn’t fit in to the hippy sort of artist scene that was in front of me. Everyone had long hair, there were amplifiers the size of humans wired from the ceiling blaring out Led Zepplin, and you were always filthy dirty. Always. But I loved it. And over time, I let the hippy in me come out a little bit, and over time, my work associates cut their long hair and started listening to country music. Go figure.

Currently, I am the Qualifications Director for the company. I handle all the service problems, warranty work, finishing and staining, as well as working in the showrooms on the weekends. I do a fair amount of in-home consults, and as a result, custom design work. I pretty much see myself as a problem solver. That is the best way to describe my day-to-day activities. I feel that my current goal is to find a way to get back into the shop with some regularity doing what I want to do – making furniture.

I feel needed on my current position. There seems to be a large amount of trepidation and downright fear on the part of the consumers I meet. Worries about sizes, fit, finish, damage, cost, value, children, all have led to a lot of correction on my part. So while I want to go off and create, I know I am needed here to help correct.

Bye for now.


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