Speaking to Manufacturing Today, Gat Caperton, President of Gat Creek, shared his interesting and impressive story about how he started his furniture manufacturing business. Gat Creek, now 26 years old with $25 million in sales and 165 employees, creates residential home furnishings built from Appalachian hardwoods.
In the article, Caperton spoke about his ethos regarding the use of sustainable, locally harvested hardwoods and his work with The Conservation Fund, where he learned about protecting the forest. As a wood furniture maker located in Berkley Springs, the geographical center of the Appalachian Forest, Caperton is proud of the fact that there are more trees there now than at any time in the past 100 years.
Also a source of pride for Caperton is the fact that domestic manufacturing is experiencing a revival and companies have reshaped the way they make products. Technology has changed the way Gat Creek manufactures furniture. It’s no longer an assembly line approach; artisans have their own work bench where they work on one to five pieces of furniture a day. When this person is finished, they sign and date their work and move it to the finishing room.
This Is Where Production Systems Comes Into The Picture
Production Systems designed and built a tow line finishing system for Gat Creek. The tow line carries carts of case goods and chairs to be conveyed through spray booths, flash and cure enclosure. The system includes opposing, enclosed and pressurized spray booths, a heated flash enclosure with turbulent air flow, and a direct gas fired cure oven with turbulent air glow typical of furniture finishing systems. Also provided are make-up air systems to replace the exhausted air from the finishing operation.
Caperton continues to discuss the boom that occurred to his business due to Covid. He jokes, “There’s nothing better for the furniture business than locking everybody up for two solid years!” His business is now at capacity. He also talks about the challenge of skyrocketing inflation which has caused him to consider his pricing structure. In order to set up Gat Creek for the future, Caperton plans to move to a facility that is twice the size of the current one. His goal is to double his sales in five years.