Beachley Furniture in Hagerstown recognized for reinventing itself

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot presented David Beachley with the Better with Less award

May 03, 2011|By DAN DEARTH |
  • Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot kids with Beachley Furniture president David Beachley Tuesday at the North Prospect Street business. Franchot recognized the company for reinventing its business to survive the economic downturn.
By Kevin G. Gilbert, Staff Photographer

The state comptroller Tuesday recognized the owner of Beachley Furniture in Hagerstown for finding innovative ways to do business in today's lethargic economy.

Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot presented David Beachley with the Better with Less award during a ceremony at the furniture shop on North Prospect Street. Franchot gave Beachley the award in front of about two-dozen employees, who stood on a hardwood floor that was littered with scraps of upholstery.

The comptroller's visit to Hagerstown was part of a trip that he took through Western Maryland to present the award to local business owners in Allegany, Garrett and Washington counties.

"You're looking at the heart and soul of the Maryland economy," Franchot said.

Beachley Furniture was the only business to receive the award in Washington County, Franchot said. He said that state legislators, who typically find solutions by raising taxes or making drastic budget cuts, could learn from Beachley and other private business people on how to get Maryland's "fiscal house back in order."

Beachley, a fifth-generation furniture maker, said his business began to decline with the rest of the economy in 2008. To cope with the downturn, he said he stopped taking a salary, and managers and production staff took pay cuts. Eventually, the company eliminated office personnel and laid off 60 percent of the production staff.

"We had to figure out what to do," Beachley said. "We went out and looked for a whole new kind of customer."

Beachley said the company abandoned making furniture on a wide scale and turned to creating custom pieces for restaurants, college libraries, attorneys' offices and corporate boardrooms. The company also manufactures custom furniture for yachts.

"We didn't go out and start a new line," Beachley said. "We asked, 'What do you want us to make?' We're still going through a rough time. We're just turning the corner."

Although Beachley Furniture has shrunk from about 60 employees to a few dozen, Beachley said being forced to retool the business might have been the best thing that happened to the company.

"I think we almost created our own market," Beachley said. "We put that catalog out, and it just exploded."


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