Our founder, Ben Chang had worked in the wood industry most of his life. As a Forest Ranger in Taiwan, Ben had always a love of wood and nature. He came to the U.S. for his Double M.S. from the College of Forestry at State University of New York and Syracuse University. After graduating, he considered pursuing his doctorate but he needed to support his growing family and took a job with the E.L. Bruce Company, the wood flooring company in Memphis, Tennessee. After working there nearly a decade, he went back with his family to work in Taiwan for a large furniture manufacturer and importer briefly. Overseas, life did not suit his small children and he returned to the U.S. and settled in Southern California. He worked as a plant manager for the furniture division of several large manufacturers overseeing plants ranging from 300 to 600 employees for nearly another decade. With the changes in management and buyouts, he decided to start out on his own with his wife Linda and a few employees.
In 1989, Ben started Country Pine Woodworking in Pomona, California. After making cabinetry for hotels, custom kitchens for homeowners, he found his niche in the unfinished furniture industry. After several years of primarily manufacturing pine furniture for local retailers, the business grew and Ben found himself shipping furniture to clients across the Pacific Northwest including Washington, Oregon Nevada, California as well as Arizona, Utah, Colorado and as far east as St. Louis, MO. As his customer base expanded, he began to make furniture in alder and oak as well as pine and changed the name to Country Furniture Mfg. Company to reflect the growth of the business. The unfinished furniture industry was mostly small family-owned stores selling quality solid wood furniture – no particleboard and primarily made in the U.S. Customers would then either finish it themselves to save money or have it finished by the stores in the stain of their choice. He was a pioneer in the industry when he started using solid wood combined with plywood in his furniture. To keep with the tradition of using only real wood, he avoided particle boards in the construction of his furniture. But to provide improved stability and reduce warping and cracking in the furniture since it was unfinished, he used plywood in shelving and the building of the case. Today this is an industry standard and widely used. He had a simple black and white catalog made with his wife that he photocopied and gave out to his customers.
Country Furniture was small enough to offer people the ability to customize their pieces unlike the large manufacturers that he had worked for before. He would make it to the size the customer wanted, and let them change a door or moulding to suit their individual style.
In the fall of 1997, Doug, Ben’s future son-in-law came to the shop for the first time. Doug was impressed and fascinated by the craftsmanship and artistry of what they made. It was made using many of the same techniques Norm Abram on the New Yankee Workshop. Doug was visiting from the San Francisco Bay Area. He graduated from Cal Berkeley and working as team manager at a SF ad agency with clients such as Coca-Cola, The House of Seagram, Pacific Bell, and Motorola. Well marriage changes things, and Doug moved a year later to Southern California and joined the family business. In a two years, the business double in sales and expanded to over 110 stores in 10 states reaching customers as far as New York and Florida. We went from a typewriter and fax machine to computers in a few short years.
In 1999, we began the transition to computer based design and manufacturing with 3D modeling and furniture pieces engineered to order. Prior to this, we still made lists by hand with a calculator on a notepad one-at-a-time. Our product line took on a life of its own. People could customize it to what the customer wanted. We had always made custom furniture but now we had created a system to do it: choice your pieces, pick your door, mouldings and size. We were an early adapter to computer aided manufacturing (CAM) with the purchase of a nested based CNC machine from Italy.
As imports began to flood the market, we made a decision to stay in California and not go overseas or out-of-state. As a custom wholesale furnituremaker, we made cabinets available to the homeowners, designers, architects, and contractors since this would not compete with our furniture dealers. We specialized in media niches and offices since these pieces drew from our furniture background and these pieces looked more like furniture. Find a niche and fill it as we say.
Today, as we celebrate 20 years of manufacturing custom furniture and cabinetry, we are a diversified woodworking company that still builds custom wood casegood furniture (not sofas or upholstery), mantels, closets, garages, desks, home offices, media niches and entertainment centers, wainscoting, kitchens, wine cabinetry, bookcases and much more. We take pride in that most of our employees are between 5-15 years of service, that each piece is still hand assembled on a bench for a client one piece at a time. No cabinet or furniture is mass produced. No cabinet or furniture is stocked. We don’t import our cabinets or furniture in a box. It’s still individually custom crafted using traditional woodworking techniques by hand combined with precision woodworking technology impossible to achieve even by the most experienced woodworker. Everyday is a new experience, and the adventure since no two jobs are the same. Our personal signature is in each piece we make for our clients. While we do not claim to be all knowing, our experience, machinery and talent allows us to take on a wide range of projects. We look forward to an opportunity to work together with you and thank our 1000s of customers for their patronage and support over the years.