NEW GLOUCESTER, Maine — At an upcoming awards dinner, the Maine Wood Products Association will present its Pine Tree Award to Thos. Moser of Auburn, Maine and a new Pine Cone Award to W.A. Mitchell Fine Furniture of Farmington, both family-owned and operated furniture companies.
“This is an exciting change for the MWPA because it allows us to showcase the creativity and innovative spirit of larger and small member companies alike,” said Dan Crowley, executive director of the MWPA, in a press release. The Pine Cone Award is given to a company with 15 or fewer employees while the Pine Tree Award is given to a company with more than 15 employees. This is the first year that the Award has been given in two categories.
Collin Miller, a regional wood products specialist for the Northern Forest Center that provides grants and other assistance to the wood products sector, said that these two companies have weathered some very challenging times by working smarter. “It’s great that the MWPA shines a light on the most innovative companies in Maine every year, holding them out as examples for our region’s many wood products manufacturers,” said Miller. “The most innovative companies are the ones that will succeed, and that’s crucial for sustaining the tens of thousands of jobs in the industry.”
The awards will be presented at a banquet on Wednesday, Aug. 13, at Bates College.
Thos. Moser wins Pine Tree Award
Formerly a Bates college professor, Tom Moser left teaching in 1972 to restore the lost art of fine woodworking by making one-of-a-kind furniture in an old Grange Hall in New Gloucester, Maine. His wife Mary managed the selling and finances, while their four sons trained as young apprentices. During the last 40 years, the company has received numerous awards for its furniture designs and has gained a fiercely loyal and international following. What started as a one-man operation has grown to a business that employees more than 130 employees, including nearly 70 cabinetmakers (about half men and half women).
Since the very beginning, the story of every piece of Thos. Moser furniture has been underpinned by the same basic tenet: no function without beauty. The company’s growth has led to the need to invent ways to work more efficiently while maintaining an unwavering commitment to making beautiful furniture of the highest quality. One of the most important changes has been the introduction of “lean manufacturing” to the shop floor, and this has made them look at their business in a new light.
This evolutionary process has helped them to trim raw material stock levels down to just what’s needed, when it’s needed, rather than carrying an unnecessary inventory of parts and lumber which take up space and working capital for indefinite periods of time. It has changed how the manufacturing process looks and feels in their Auburn workshop. One of the most important features of “lean” is how it empowers workers to make production decisions and quality assessments at all levels, thereby resulting in a culture of team work and caring. “Thos. Moser has used these innovations to strike a balance between man and machine that allows for planning both precision and spontaneity into their processes,” said Crowley. “Their hands-on approach is what makes Thos. Moser furniture, each piece individually signed by the craftsman who made it, stand out in this age of mass production.”
Thos. Moser is based in Auburn, Maine, and operates six showrooms located in Freeport, Boston, New York, Greenwich, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.
W. A. Mitchell Fine Furniture
When customers choose W.A. Mitchell Fine Furniture, they are buying from a small family-owned Maine company. They design and build all their handmade furniture in the town of Farmington after having relocated from the smaller town of Temple, home of the company founder, Arthur H. Mitchell.
The company employs local artisans who truly care about the quality of the work they do each day. Over the years, W. A. Mitchell has earned an international reputation for outstanding quality and unstinting standards in furniture. Their products can be found in the pages of prestigious woodworking publications, and in homes and businesses around the world. Mitchell furniture has also been featured in catalogs such as L.L. Bean, Orvis, Sturbridge Yankee Workshop, and several European furniture catalogs.
“Owner Dan Maxham has been a long time promoter of the Maine wood product industry. Through his preferred dealer network and his many years as a board member of the MWPA
Dan has given his time, money and many talents to help strengthen this sector of the economy,” said Crowley. “As the owner of W. A. Mitchell Fine Furniture he has persevered through one of the most challenging periods that our industry has experienced and his company has grown, adopting new technology, adding machinery, employees and expanding their customer base.”
The Maine Wood Products Association (MWPA) seeks to improve the competitive position of its members and build quality employment in the State by sharing technical, marketing and business expertise. The MWPA is a 501(c) 3 organization.