Hekman Furniture Co.
1922 - present
Offices and factory: Grand Rapids, Michigan. Additional factories: High Point and Lexington, North Carolina.
1922: Company founded by brothers Henry, Jelle, and John Hekman.
1942: Main showroom moves from Grand Rapids to Merchandise Mart in Chicago.
1964: Second plant acquired in Lexington, North Carolina.
1969: Hekman becomes a division of Beatrice Foods Co.
1974: Hekman acquires Alexis Manufacturing Co. of Grand Rapids.
1976: Hekman acquires H. Meulenberg & Son.
1977: Indiana Moulding & Frame Co. becomes a division of Hekman.
1978: St. Johns, Inc. of Cadillac, Michigan becomes a division of Hekman.
1983: Hekman is purchased by Howard Miller Clock Co. of Zeeland, Michigan, but continues to operate under its own name.
1994: Hekman purchases Woodmark Originals, Stanton-Cooper, and Dansen Contemporary Lines from Markwood, Inc. of High Point, North Carolina, adding new lines and three additional plants to Hekman.
Three sons of Dutch immigrants, Henry, Jelle, and John Hekman started the Hekman Furniture Co. along with experienced engineer and close friend James Boonstra in 1922. Henry served as company president from the time of its founding until he was succeeded by his brother Jelle in 1952. In 1936 Henry was elected president of the National Association of Furniture Manufacturers. Jelle, in turn, served as president of Hekman from 1952 until 1960. Adrian Vanden Bout was elected president in 1960, and served until succeeded by Harold Rodenhouse in 1974. Dan Henslee became president in 1989.
William Halstrick designed the company’s first line of 30 tables. John F. Samuelson also served for a time as one of Hekman’s designers. In 1970, Grand Rapids native Raymond K. Sobota designed the company’s English Yewwood Collection, which became one of its most successful lines.
Hekman’s first introduction was a line of 30 occasional tables. From there, the line grew to include occasional pieces for the living room, library, and hall. During World War II the factory was converted for production of glider bottoms and ammunition boxes. In 1960, pieces were offered in Neo-classical, Italian Provincial, French Provincial, and Danish Modern styles. Besides Sobota’s “English Yewwood Collection,” the company produced other wood occasional lines in the 1970s, including the English Provincial “Charing Cross” collection, the sleek-lined, Mapa burl-veneered “Wind Row” collection, a series of entertainment centers, and the faux bamboo “Bambu Regency” collection.
During the early 1980s Hekman also began marketing desks and computer cabinets for home offices. At about that same time Hekman furnished several large hotels, including the Amway Grand Plaza in Grand Rapids, and the Ritz-Carlton in Chicago.
In 1991 Hekman introduced a line of reproductions of furniture owned by English novelist Charles Dickens, including a sloped mahogany desk and a cain seat smoker’s bow chair. Hekman faithfully reproduced impressions made on the original desk by Charles Dickens, who nervously tapped his ring while he was writing.
MARKS AND LABELS
Beginning at least in the late 1920s, Hekman used a modified shield shape in red, surrounding a large white “H” inside which was written, “HEKMAN FURNITURE CO., GRAND RAPIDS, MICH.” In the 1940s the company switched to a large “H” containing the name “HEKMAN,” surrounded by a laurel wreath. In the 1960s the company used a solid circle surrounding a white block “H”, with “HEKMAN” printed inside. By the 1970s the circle was dropped, leaving a dark block “H” surrounding the name “HEKMAN” in white.
The source, with permission of the author, is Grand Rapids Furniture: The Story of America’s Furniture City by Christian G. Carron, published by the Grand Rapids Public Museum. 1998.
|Title||Hekman Furniture Co.|
|Address||Grand Rapids, MI|