Buck Stove gets colorful with picnic table venture
SPRUCE PINE – It’s been a colorful couple of months at the Buck Stove facility off Halltown Road.
Over the past six weeks, the company, known for its wood stoves, has been doing something it’s never done before, which is make picnic tables – specifically turquoise picnic tables.
The company plans this week to ship 950 turquoise picnic tables to go on sale across the country at a national retailer this coming spring.
“Our shipping department is full of picnic tables,” said Claudia Honeycutt, director of sales and marketing for Buck Stove.
Contractually, Buck Stove is not allowed to say who the retailer is or from where the branding idea came. But a quick Google search will lead a curious mind to a lady in Austin, Texas, who placed a turquoise picnic table in her front yard as a way to help meet her neighbors and get to know the community in which she lives.
A vendor in West Virginia, who Honeycutt said had always worked with imports, wanted a domestic partner to produce the picnic tables. The message spread to the North Carolina Economic Development Partnership and Bill Slagle, a regional industry manager, alerted Buck Stove to the potential business venture.
Honeycutt said it took two meetings with the vendor to seal the deal. Buck Stove’s employees take pride in being an American-made company, Honeycutt said about being the vendor’s first American production partner.
“Hopefully this will be an ongoing, long-term branding project with lots of different products,” she said, adding Buck Stove has been working on other products, including turquoise lawn chairs and a fire pit to go with the picnic table.
Besides wood stoves, Buck Stove makes lawn furniture and a variety of other products (for the past year, workers have been making “tiny houses”) so the company had the necessary tools and skill set to make picnic tables. But, Honeycutt said, there has been a learning curve.
“We can finish about 30 (picnic tables) in a day,” she said.
About 20 employees are involved in the process. The wood for the tables is North Carolina yellow pine.
“We’re used to working with very slick steel and very slick, finished plastic,” Honeycutt said. “Yellow pine lumber is not that.”
Honeycutt also said it took a few tries to get the turquoise color just right.
“Our biggest challenge was getting the exact color of turquoise that they wanted,” she said.
Buck Stove’s production levels typically slow down during the holiday season when shipping is a priority. The picnic table project has created extra work for a lot of employees.
“It’s been a nice boost in a time when you just were not expecting it,” Honeycutt said. “Our focus, really, is on sustainability of our people and of our product line, too.”
When the picnic tables are loaded into trucks and shipped, Honeycutt said, she’ll have a smile on her face.
“I just always think it’s neat to have this little piece of Spruce Pine nationwide,” she said.