Hitchcock Chair’s new Winsted manufacturing facility opening April 1

Photo via Hitchcock Chair Company's Facebook page.
Photo via Hitchcock Chair Company's Facebook page.

WINSTED — The Hitchcock Chair Company expects to begin operating from its new 10,000 square foot manufacturing facility at 107 John G Groppo Drive in the Winchester Industrial Park by April 1.
The company has outgrown its smaller Riverton manufacturing facility, which is less than 2,000 square feet. However, the company’s store and main office will both remain in historic Riverton, where the company began more than 200 years ago.
Rick Swenson, who owns the Hitchcock Chair Company with his business partner Gary Hath, said the company is in the process of moving the rest of their equipment from Riverton to the Winsted facility over the next few days.
The company expects to have 10 employees working at the Winsted facility once it opens. Swenson added that there will be the potential to hire more people as the business continues to grow.
Swenson, who had lived in Winsted for 20 years, said the company is happy to be a part of the community and added that the Winchester Economic Commission has been very welcoming. “This facility is perfect for us,” Swenson said. “It’s a good step forward for us.”
The new, larger facility will allow the company to modernize its manufacturing process and give the company more space to operate and produce more of their larger pieces, such as bedroom furniture, dining room, and kitchen tables and hutches. “We’re more than just rocking chairs,” Swenson pointed out. “We produce 300 different items.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic did delay the company’s earlier plans for expansion and shut their retail store for a short time, Swenson said the business was able to continue selling its furniture over the phone and online. He added that 2020 was a great year for home improvement because so many people were working from home. This did help boost the Hitchcock Chair Company’s sales. Swenson expects that business will only continue to improve as the weather gets warmer.
The Hitchcock Chair Company was founded in 1818 by Lambert Hitchcock in Riverton. By 1826, the company was producing about 50 chairs a day. In 1967, the company’s 190 workers produced about 80,000 pieces of furniture a year.
After struggling for many years to compete with cheap overseas imports, the New England company closed its doors in 2006. For four years, the company name lay dormant until 2010 when Swenson and Hath purchased the name, plans, and artwork to continue the Hitchcock legacy of superior craftsmanship and homemade charm.
One distinguishing feature of their furniture has always been the hand-painted stenciling. The Hitchcock Chair Company also offers customized stencils so companies can personalize their furniture with logos. Their customized graduate chairs are also very popular with universities, said Swenson.
While the vast majority of furniture sold in the United States is made overseas, Swenson said part of the Hitchcock Chair Company’s continued success is that all of their furniture is still made in America. “There is a huge demand for American-made products right now,” he said.
For more information on Hitchcock Chairs go to its website at hitchcockchair.com

Jeannette Brodeur has been a journalist for more than 30 years and wrote a human interest column for the New Jersey Herald, the Naugatuck Daily News and the Citizen’s News for many years. She and her husband Todd have three adult children: Harley, Aaron and Jillian, as well as an aging rescue dog named Nelson and two rescue cats named Reeses (like the candy) and Clarence (like the angel in “It’s a Wonderful Life”). They live on Highland Lake in Winchester/Winsted.
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