A Love of Furniture Design
If you are a “Christmas through Lowell” enthusiast, you might already know about Nick and Amy Gless of GlessBoards. This local custom furniture design team started their journey back in 2001 while looking for a hobby to keep them busy during the cold Michigan winters when golfing wasn’t an option. They had no idea it would grow to the point where each of them would be able to leave their corporate jobs in the healthcare industry. It became what Amy describes as “a hobby out of control.”
The focus of GlessBoards is mainly custom sizes and designs of dining room tables and chairs. Although they specialize in shaker and mission style furniture, they are expanding their abilities every day. Additionally, they take the time to enroll in classes each year in order to add to their knowledge and skill set. This year will focus on “trick of the eye, trompe l’oeil carving.”
Recognized for Excellence
- Potential to improve the economic base within the Greater Lowell Community.
- New and/or innovative business ventures to the Greater Lowell Community
- The ability to create excitement within the community.
Amy and Nick were blown away by the honor. They couldn’t believe they were being recognized by the community.
Marketing their Dream
The United States currently enjoys a $96.4 billion dollar furniture market. E-Commerce is a large part of that market, and it appears that it is continuing on an upward trend. The outlook for annual furniture sales through E-Commerce is projected to grow from $12 billion in 2012 to $32 billion by the end of 2018. This is good news for entrepreneurs like Nick and Amy Gless.
Nick and Amy have developed a partnership approach with their customers. Currently, they sell 75% of their products online, with nearly 50% being sold outside of Michigan. Involving the customer every step of the way when creating each piece of custom furniture has been a successful business model. By engaging in creative discussions, sharing photos during production, and making sure the customer is completely satisfied with color, they ensure each customer receives exactly what they wanted.
Facebook has been a great way for Amy to share a photo album documenting the day to day progress of the latest design. Being able to follow the progress of production, the customer’s excitement grows as they anticipate delivery day.
The biggest surprise with incoming orders are the amount coming from the East Coast. The East Coast has many custom furniture designers, making the Gless’s wonder if they are able to produce custom designs at a lower price point due to much lower overhead costs.
The Future – No Regrets
When asked if they have any plans for expansion, Amy replied that she “likes the connection with the customer and wouldn’t rule out growing bigger, but not at the expense of customer service.” Currently, their team consists of Nick, Amy and their nephew Elliott. They have a busy schedule but pride themselves on delivering on time. A large whiteboard on the wall reminds them daily of projects and deadlines.
Because their main focus is on made to order designs they do not have plans for a showroom. Family and friends were so supportive right from the start. But their quality and creativity has gathered a much larger customer base. Their first online order was a bit scary for them, but now it’s all in a day’s work.
There have been no regrets in leaving their corporate jobs. Amy has been working solely at GlessBoards for the past 5 years. They feel happier and healthier with no plans to slow down. A new shop is nearing completion, adding one more reason to be excited about new possibilities.