Harden may not be a name you’re familiar with but chances are you've seen this manufacturer's traditional-style furniture in a local store and didn't even know it. And it’s one of few furniture companies that are producing goods right here in America. For over 168 years Harden has maintained its factory in McConnellsville, New York, when many companies have been forced to go overseas. We spoke with Arlene Hall, director of marketing for Harden Furniture, to find out what’s it like to be a made-in-America furniture company.
The Huffington Post: What is the biggest challenge Harden faces as an American made furniture company?
Arlene Hall: Honestly, the pricing is a major issue. When you’re dealing with overseas companies, people see the price and they don’t realize the quality they’re getting. You’re not comparing apples to apples.
HuffPost: Is it difficult to find materials to work with?
AH: Absolutely. We try really hard to get all of our materials from local stores. But there are certain accent materials that are difficult to find because it’s very hard for American companies to stay in business, especially with price competition for furniture fabric. We’ve seen wonderful fabric mills go out of business.
HuffPost: What would you say is the biggest difference in furniture made in America and furniture made elsewhere?
AH: Well, it really starts with the wood. We use solid wood construction, typically cherry but also oak, ash and walnut. These are very high quality wood species. You’re not getting that overseas. The furniture made overseas -- the way the pieces are put together can easily fall apart. But what we’re doing is crafting a masterpiece. A piece of our furniture is a craftsman created piece. We also offer customization. We don’t make 100 of the same piece. We offer 50 finishes, you can even make changes to sizes and creature your own. And those are things you can’t get overseas.
HuffPost: Why do you think it’s important for Americans to buy furniture from companies like Harden?
AH: Well, it keeps American jobs here, which is so important, and if we can keep the manufacturing jobs in the United States, they’ll get the quality they want.
HuffPost: How many people are employed by Harden?
AH: 275. We were founded in 1844 and it’s a fifth generation company. We have people who have been here for years. I’ve been here for 24 years. It’s a very family friendly place and people stay here a long time.
HuffPost: Harden is a part of the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, as well?
AH: Yes, we’re very conscious here. We use chips that would be considered waste to fuel the factory. We’re a part of the SFC -- Sustainable Furnishings Council and became a Silver Exemplary Member. It was a vigorous application, so we’re pretty proud of that.
HuffPost: What would you say to convince people to buy from American companies?
AH: I would say buying from made-in-America companies is a contribution you can make to keep American people employed, And if you want a piece of to furniture pass down to your children, American made will stand the test of time.
Click through our slideshow to see some of piece Harden makes and head over to Harden Furniture to learn more about the company.