Friday, March 16, 2012

"The Henry Ford of Furniture"

Morris Futorian (1907-1994) emigrated with his family from the Ukraine in 1923 at age fifteen. After performing briefly in the Chicago and New York Yiddish theater circuits,  Futorian, along with his father, went to work as an upholsterer in the Glabman Brothers factory in Chicago. After losing his job during the Great Depression, Futorian began his own hand-made furniture business at home. By 1947, his company employed seventy-five workers and had moved to an uptown warehouse. While successful, Futorian was frustrated at the slow pace of production and he was unable to find enough skilled workers needed to further expand his business. Inspired by a visit to a Detroit automobile assembly plant, he decided that he would mass produce furniture using assembly-line methods.

This chair was produced in New
Albany, Mississippi, in 1960 and
shipped to a customer in Texas. A
pair of these chairs recently sold
on a "retro" furniture website
and included the original
delivery slip (below). 
Looking for a location with a good supply of wood and an available labor force, Futorian selected New Albany, Mississippi, on the recommendation of E.L. Robinson, and industrial agent for the GM&O Railroad. Futorian opened his new plant in a 50,000 sq. ft. building on September 13, 1948, and named it the Stratford Company after the Chicago street he lived on. By keeping warehousing and inventory costs low, Futorian was able to quickly expand his business. In 1952, he opened a second plant in Okolona, where he produced ‘Stratolounger’ recliners. By 1954, he was supporting three production and two supply factories in Mississippi and two North Carolina factories. In 1964, his companies were acquired by Mohasco Industries.

Futorian, who died in 1994, was among eight inductees to the inaugural  American Furniture Hall of Fame. He was known as the “Henry Ford of  

1 comment:

  1. I just had to chime in here as I was researching the history of the Stratolounger recliner. We just acquired two matching Stratoloungers built in May of 1972 in a gold material from the original owner's estate. He ordered them New. . . . . Now we enjoy them in our living room in the year 2014 and they are still like new and work perfectly! The best recliners ever. . . . Thank you Morris Futorian for developing these fine recliners for the people to enjoy and relax on. Signed: Eric R. from Long Island, New York