I eagerly left for Comfort College in North Carolina early on a Monday morning. I came back that Wednesday completely impressed. Not because of the view of the Appalachians to the West. And not because I could be an afternoon’s drive to the Atlantic Coast. Both of those are equally as amazing, but I came back to Kansas City still reeling from my humbling visit to the Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams production facility located just north of Charlotte in Taylorsville.
With “relaxed design” being their primary focus, Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams partnered up in 1989 to initiate production of upholstered dining chairs. Almost 25 years later, the line includes not only dining chairs, but slipcovered and tailored upholstery, leather, sectionals, sleepers sofas, ottomans, and much more. All of which being produced in North Carolina since the beginning.
The itinerary for this three day business excursion was a dense one. Shelly, a sales associate at Coveted Home, was to meet me in Charlotte upon arrival Monday afternoon. Although the “Travel Gods” were against us from the start, Shelly and I finally landed separately in Charlotte a little less than 4 hours behind schedule. After several departure delays and a few too many complementary gingersnap cookies, we were ready to start our journey to Lake Hickory, where Mitchell and his partner have a waterfront home. We made it just in time for a delicious meal, good conversation with Mitchell himself, and a beautiful sunset.
Tuesday began with a few more introductions. Before our official factory tour, we met Bob, as well as a few individuals from the production and design crew . Shelly and I both were so pleasantly surprised at how down-to-earth the entire staff was. What a fantastic group of people! We could tell immediately that each employee conveyed an intense sense of ownership for their brand and was eager to express this to each of us throughout the tour. Within the 267,000 sq-ft. factory, we were given the opportunity to see firsthand each step within the production process for all custom upholstery. From start to finish, each area of production was as impressive as the last. I really did not expect such a well oiled machine. The concentration, dedication, and consistency that every individual on the factory line possessed gave me the indication that not only do they make the product well, they take pride in each piece that comes off that production line.
We had dinner Tuesday evening at Bob’s home in Hickory. I fell in love with his “colonial outside mid-century modern inside” dwelling. Every room in that house had something so interesting to gawk at. I adored his mid-century chair collection, the tray showcasing old cigarette lighters on the coffee table, and the numerous groupings of vintage McCoy and Haeger pottery intermixing with furniture pieces from their own line. I never wanted to leave, but they probably frown upon lingerers.
Wednesday was a day of design. Shelly and I were thrilled to hear about the new Fall 2013 Collection and how the team was inspired by the political, social, scientific, and economic views of the late 60′s to early 70′s. After a brief quiz and a nice lunch in the factory’s health-conscious cafe, all of us that participated in the three days of Comfort College were given a diploma by both Mitchell and Bob. Only some of us received kisses on the cheek from Mitchell, Shelly and I included. I would say that was a perfect way to end our North Carolina adventure!