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Mueller Furniture Corp.

1920 - 1992

Grand Rapids, Michigan

SEE ALSO Widdicomb Furniture Company; Mueller & Slack Co.; Grand Rapids Parlor Chair Co.; Strahan & Long Furniture Co. (Listed below)


1920: Name changes from Mueller & Slack Co. to Mueller Furniture Co.

1950: Mueller Furniture Co. merges with Widdicomb Furniture Co. to form the Widdicomb – Mueller Co.

1951: Company begins operation as Mueller Metals Co., a subsidiary of Widdicomb – Mueller.

1960: Mueller Metals separates from Widdicomb name as an independent company.

1962: Mueller Metals changes name to Mueller Furniture Corp.

1984: Mueller purchases West Michigan Furniture Co. in Holland, Michigan.

1990: Mueller is purchased by Haworth, Inc.

1992: Mueller is combined with another Haworth subsidiary, the Myrtle Desk Co. of High Point, North Carolina. Grand Rapids plant closes; product development and marketing move to Haworth in Holland, and manufacturing of some products under the Mueller name continues in High Point.


The company became Mueller Furniture Co. in 1920 when co-owner A.W. Slack sold his interest in the Mueller & Slack Co. to his partner, Johann Frederick Mueller. In 1920 his son, Frederick H. Mueller, joined the firm. The company continued in family hands when grandson Fritz Mueller went to work for the company in 1946. In 1950 it was merged with Widdicomb Furniture Co., and became the division know as Mueller Metals. This division continued to be managed by Fritz Mueller.

The company moved out of Mueller family hands in 1961 when it was purchased by G. Richard Bodkins. Partners David Lohr and Thatcher W. Rea, Jr. purchased the company in 1975. Rea became sole owner and operated Mueller until 1990, when it was sold and became a subsidiary of Haworth, Inc.


In the 1920s Mueller made high-grade, upholstered chairs, benches, ottomans, davenports, and sofas. Frames were mahogany and walnut, with patterned mohair, silk brocade and tapestry fabrics that interpreted historical English and French styles.

The noted streamlined Modern designer Kem Weber designed the “Fleetwood” line on contract for Mueller in 1936. The grouping included chairs, desks, and tables made of lightweight plywood, cut into rounded and aerodynamic shapes similar to his “Airline chairs” for a California company. Sofas and easy chairs in the Fleetwood line were rectangular and boxy with rounded corners, and were all over upholstered with leather or geometric patterned fabrics. At the same time Mueller continued to advertise traditional lines, which were adaptations of 18th-century English, French, American Empire, Colonial and Victorian styles.

As Mueller Metals Co., the company manufactured tables, upholstered seating, and other contract furniture for offices, especially sofas, lounge chairs, benches, occasional chairs, and table desks. When the company was purchased in 1961, the case goods were dropped and the company concentrated just on upholstered furniture and tables. Between 1963 and 1967, the company sub-contracted all of its manufacturing. It began to manufacture its own products again in 1967, after purchasing the former Widdicomb factory.

The wooden component-based VARIA system was introduced in 1986, to provide flexible systems furniture for small office settings. According to a December, 1990 Grand Rapids Press article, Mueller was the first company to develop wooden modular case goods for the contract market in the 1970s. A series of upholstered wooden chairs named for Thatcher Rea’s wife, Mary, and daughters Cara and Laura, were some of the company’s top-selling products.


Circa 1951 pieces were marked with a square label that read, in script: “Est. 1892/Mueller/GRAND RAPIDS”. Mueller was a founding member of the Grand Rapids Furniture Makers Guild, and so pieces from the early 1930s through 1951 may carry the spread eagle symbol and “TRUE GRAND RAPIDS CERTIFIED” label in addition to the company’s trademark. Circa 1962 the trademark was changed to a long rectangle with a lower case “m” and the name, “MUELLER FURNITURE CORPORATION”. In the 1970s and ‘80s the company was identified by the name “mueller’ in lower-case block letters, with the “u” connected to a reversed “e” and the second “er” also connected. After 1990, “A Haworth Company” was added underneath this trademark.


Mueller & Slack Company

1892 – 1920

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Originally, manufacturer of Turkish leather upholstered furniture including rocking chairs and couches, davenport sofas, parlor suites, library seating, 

and occasional furniture. By the 1910s production had switched to caned and upholstered period revival sofas, chairs, and suites for the living room and library.

Successor to Grand Rapids Parlor Chair Co.

SEE ALSO Grand Rapids Parlor Chair Co.; Strahan & Long Co. (Listed below)


1892: Company formed from Grand Rapids Parlor Chair Co.

1920: Name changes to Mueller Furniture Co.


Grand Rapids Parlor Chair Company

1891 – ca. 1892

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Upholsterers of parlor suites and lounge frames for wholesale only.

Successor to Strahan & Long.

Predecessor to Mueller & Slack Co.


Strahan & Long Furniture Company

1886 – 1891

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Manufacturer of parlor suites and lounges for wholesale only.

Incorporated as Grand Rapids Parlor Chair Co. in 1891.

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. 


Full Details

TitleMueller Furniture Corp.
AddressGrand Rapids, MI
Year Opened1920
Year Closed1992

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