Troutman Chair Co. named Organization of the Year
BY DEBBIE PAGE
Troutman Town Council selected Troutman Chair Co. as its 2019 Organization of the Year. Owners Champ and Jean Land have been generous supporters of town events for years.
Mayor Teross Young and Town Council members will formally present the honor during the cpuncil's meeting at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 9.
Town Manager Justin Longino said the company, though not technically in the town limits, is the title sponsor for the Front Porch Fest for the third year. Each year the company gives away two of its world famous rockers at the festival.
The Lands have increased their support and involvement in the town and its events each year, whether in donations, lending rockers for Party in the Park events, or involvement with the Troutman Business Council.
Son Cam Land, who also works for the company, made three unique, freestanding front porches for the festival.
“If I carry an idea to Cam, he’s down to do it,” said Longino.
Jean laughingly told the story of Cam and Longino going around Troutman spray painting “Troutman Rocks” on random town streets, using a metal laser cut stencil and paint that only appears when it rains.
The Lands bought Troutman Chair Co. in 1999.
The couple feels close to Troutman because so many of their workers live in the town.
“We really like the theory for the Front Porch Fest, which was purely driven by a desire to create community and get people together in a fun manner to enjoy music, food, and rocking chairs,” Jean said. “Troutman also does such a great job with its events -- the 5Ks, the Easter egg hunts, the activities at ESC Park. With a community that’s so like-minded, it’s easy to be involved!”
“A lot of towns forget what’s important around them," she added. "The town and the council always look out for residents first,” protecting its identity and small-charm as it grows.
The company's employees are special to the Lands. Jean proudly pointed to a beautiful, handcrafted 12-foot table employees constructed as a “family” break table. Each worker selected his or her own chair painted in their favorite colors in which to sit as they enjoy food and fellowship together.
“I was raised to treat others as I want to be treated,” said Jean. “I am a believer that no one walks alone. We are a family here who has each others’ backs. It’s a happy place to work because what we make makes others so happy.
“If you give pleasure, you have pleasure in what you do.”
She believes Statesville Chair still thrives in a mass-production world because her employees care about their craft, making products that they last for decades. Their careful design and engineering creates rockers with an angle that takes the pressure off the user’s spine so that the person can truly relax.
Several years ago, the Lands purchased P & P Chair Co. and its assets, adding the famous “Kennedy rocker” as well as the company’s Carolina rocker to its product line.
The rocker became famous when President John F. Kennedy, before moving into the White House in 1961, requested this rocker be the first item off the truck to be taken to the Oval Office.
Kennedy, who suffered chronic back pain, owned more than a dozen of the rockers. He also sat in one aboard Air Force One as he flew on official trips all over the world, according to Jean Land.
“Not many products you use every day actually make you feel better every time you use it,” she added.
Troutman Chair has many sizes and styles of rockers, including some with cane woven seats made in Ashe County.
Each chair is assembled by hand, though machines help prepare a few pieces prior to assembly. Because the company eschews automated production, their products take longer to make.
“We’ve been ‘small batch’ for 95 years,” Jean joked. “Mass produced items are all alike. We look different than anyone else, and we like it like that.”
The company has 22 employees, and remains small enough that it can try different ideas that customers bring in or that they discover.
Cam designs and creates tables for those who want something truly unique to fit in a particular spot in their home. He also makes custom kitchen cutting boards, which are on display in the plant’s lobby area.
The quality of Troutman Chair’s work has led customers from all over the world to seek out its products. St. Maarten’s Princess Juliana International Airport, made famous with selfies taken with planes landing over the beach, has Troutman rockers in its airport, as does Miami’s airport, which asked for a special Key West color for its chairs.
The U.S. Open at Pinehurst purchased 600 white rockers for tent front porches through the tournament. Augusta National, Omni Homestead in Virginia, and the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island all have Troutman rockers for their guests.
Even Facebook contacted the company to purchase Charlotte rockers for employees to enjoy on its rooftop garden break area.
The company just sent 20 rockers for third baseline seating to the High Point Rockers minor league baseball team at BB&T Stadium. They ordered custom colors -- navy with red seats -- to match the team’s uniforms.
Locally, customers can purchase the rockers at GGs, Fort Dobbs Hardware, and Lil' Shavers Wood Shop in Statesville and Gibson Brothers and Brawley Furniture in Mooresville.
Jean is also chair of the Yokefellow Board of Directors because she has a heart for those who are in need. She believes that all people are hearts who seek connection, and she looks for that potential and heart in each person she encounters.
The Lands also recently supported a hospital study to see if rocking chairs could help veterans with PTSD. They donated 25 chairs for the study, which focused on 50 veterans with PTSD who were also undergoing substance abuse treatment.
The researcher, a veteran herself, focused on how to reduce the percentage of relapses among those who received treatment.
After the researcher found evidence that rocking chairs helped people with dementia and anxiety, the study was conducted to study if the rockers would also help lessen the desire for drugs and help patients self-regulate and self-soothe to reduce relapse.
Land said the researcher was so pleased with her results that she plans, after getting funding, another similar general population study of those in treatment since the opioid crisis is of great concern to her. The Lands were pleased to help with this research that will help those under the shadow of addiction.