We’re constantly looking for new product ideas. Funny how they find us sometimes!
Last year I attended and spoke at the Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) convention in Columbus, OH. MEDA is a charity that was founded by family business owners like me. Pioneers in micro-finance to the poor, they also provide advice to entrepreneurs.
For the first time, several Amish business owners attended. As is a common practice among the Amish, they hired a driver and van to get from the Kidron area to Columbus.
Unfortunately, one of the women missed the van because she was attending a funeral. Just as I was heading out the door, I received a panicked phone call from her husband. He was calling on his cell phone as he rode down I-71 to Columbus. Could I stop by their house and pick up his wife?
Of course, I agreed. And, we had a grand time in the car on the way down. Like most Amish, the lack of electronic entertainment in the home meant she was a great conversationalist.
First we did the obligatory exploration of our ancestral roots. It’s a game that is played out again and again in our little community. Who are you related to and how are those folks related to me? Points are scored for anything closer than third-cousin-once-removed-related-by-marriage. Of course, we also covered the weather, reviewed deer hunting prospects and discussed natural and homeopathic medicine.
Along the way I learned that her husband made lawn and deck furniture from recycled plastic. As I would later find out, his furniture was not only good for the environment, but easy on the eyes too. Unlike most Amish, he is something of a Renaissance man, with a genuine sense of style. Despite his 8th grade education, he also has a well-honed understanding of ergonomics.
In the end, we agreed to carry his line of high quality, good for the environment, very attractive furniture. Once I got to see it, it was an easy sell.
Which brings me to the point of making this post. One of the things I love about my job is that I get to test new products. And one of the easiest and most fun to test is furniture. What could be more relaxing than sitting? It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it!
This furniture is not currently available online. But, you can see at it our store in Kidron!