Home Back Issues September 2013 Schoolhouse Electric and Supply Co. grows a lifestyle brand

Schoolhouse Electric and Supply Co. grows a lifestyle brand

| Print |  Email
Articles - September 2013
Monday, August 19, 2013
Article Index
Schoolhouse Electric and Supply Co. grows a lifestyle brand
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4

BY LINDA BAKER

0913 TheMaker 01
0913 TheMaker 02
Schoolhouse Electric founder and owner Brian 
Faherty surrounded by the tools of his trade in the company's Northwest Portland headquarters.
// Photos by Eric Näslund

"I know it’s kind of Portlandia-ish, but it’s a really good thing for me.” Brian Faherty, founder and owner of Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co., is sitting in what he refers to as his “digital-free room,” a refurbished shipping-foreman’s office located in the company’s headquarters in Northwest Portland’s industrial district. No cell phones or digital devices of any kind are allowed inside the small space, which features brick walls, a wood stove and an axe, artfully buried in a stack of logs.

It all looks very Little House on the Prairie. “It does, doesn’t it?” responds the 49-year-old Faherty, his face lighting up. He pulls out two bottles of Bolle water, encased in a sleek glass design. “It’s my favorite water,” he says. “The bottle is kind of cool.”

Faherty sits at the helm of Schoolhouse Electric. But he is the first to tell you his passion is design, not business. He’s also the first to tell you, digital-free room notwithstanding, that he isn’t interested in copying the past. On the contrary, Faherty has spent the past 10 years transforming his nostalgia for an earlier era into a business that is decidedly future oriented. Founded in 2003, Schoolhouse Electric has grown from a small shop reproducing period light fixtures into a national housewares and furnishings brand that grew 70% last year and is on track to grow 30% in 2013.

Today, as the company celebrates its 10th anniversary, Faherty is at a crossroads — a business crossroads. “We’re in the rapids right now,” he says. “We’re experiencing a lot of velocity and it’s hard.” It’s a challenge that goes beyond managing the company’s accelerating growth. A Portland native and one of a signature breed of humble and self-effacing Oregon businesspeople, Faherty is driven by another imperative: to implement workplace and business practices that are as durable and useful as the interior furnishings the company sells.

Increasingly, that effort focuses on support for homegrown manufacturing and a call for local and state governments to move beyond what Faherty perceives as a narrow business retention and recruitment focus on green and tech industries. “How many app companies can you have?” Faherty asks. “Really, is that the future?” The City of Portland, he says, should target the “local maker movement, putting smaller companies like ours together, investing in us and what we can use.”

“Think what that could do to the local economy and manufacturing.”



 

More Articles

Wheel man

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Les Schwab has put a premium on customer service since 1952, when legendary namesake Les Schwab founded the company with one store in Prineville. (Schwab died in 2007.) But if the corporate principles remain essentially the same, the world around this iconic Oregon business has changed dramatically.


Read more...

Green eyeshades in the ivory tower

News
Friday, April 04, 2014
EducationCosts BlogBY ERIC FRUITS

The rapidly rising cost of higher education has left even the smartest researchers and the wonkiest of wonks wondering what’s happening and where’s all that money going. More and more, prospective students—and their families—are asking: Is college worth the cost?


Read more...

Speeding up science

News
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
02.25.14 Thumbnail MedwasteBY JOE ROJAS-BURKE | OB BLOGGER

The medical research enterprise wastes tens of billions of dollars a year on irrelevant studies. It’s time to fix it.


Read more...

The 2014 List: The Top 34 Medium Companies to Work, For in Oregon

March 2014
Thursday, February 27, 2014

100best14logoWebOur 100 Best Companies project turned 21 this year, so pop open the Champagne. Our latest survey gives us plenty to cheer.

 


Read more...

How to handle the unexpected

Contributed Blogs
Friday, March 28, 2014
03.28.14 thumb disasterBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

The next mysterious (or disastrous) event could be one that you or your team might suddenly need to respond to, probably under intense scrutiny.


Read more...

The solution to youth unemployment

News
Thursday, February 27, 2014
02.27.14 Thumbnail TeenworkBY ERIC FRUITS

Because they have little chance of working for someone else, today’s teens need to be entrepreneurs. But, first, we must teach our teens that entrepreneurship starts small.


Read more...

Green your workplace

News
Thursday, April 03, 2014
100Green14logo200oxBY OB STAFF

Learn how to green your workplace and lower your environmental footprint at the office. Oregon Business presents a two-hour "Greening Your Workplace" seminar on May 28th, 2014 at the Nines Hotel in Portland.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS