Sponsored by Oregon Business

Schoolhouse Electric and Supply Co. grows a lifestyle brand

| Print |  Email
Articles - September 2013
Monday, August 19, 2013


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.”



0 #1 CHINAGuest 2015-05-27 11:07:50
Most certainly is made up of Made in China parts, my U/2 sconce has CHINA stamped in big letters right in the center for all to see. Not really the look I was going for. Should have chosen Rejuvenation from the start I totally knew better.
Quote | Report to administrator

More Articles

There's a great future in plastics

Linda Baker
Friday, October 30, 2015
103115-lindachinathumbBY LINDA BAKER

This is a story about a small plastics company in wine country now exporting more than one million feet — 260 miles worth — of tubing to China every month.


Tech to Table

November/December 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Power Lunch at the Barn Light Cafe & Bar in Eugene.


The Shift to Community Health Care

November/December 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A conversation with Patrick Curran, CEO of CareOregon.


Photos: 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon awards dinner

The Latest
Thursday, October 01, 2015
100best202thumbPHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

Images from the big 2015 celebration of worker-friendly organizations that make a difference.


The cover story

Linda Baker
Thursday, November 12, 2015

I walked off the Vigor Industrial shipyard that day with a clear cover line in mind: the Love Boat.


Not Your Father's Cafeteria

November/December 2015
Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Corporate food service reaches out to foodies.


The death and life of American cities

Linda Baker
Monday, November 02, 2015
housingoldpdx thumbBY LINDA BAKER

The hollowing out of the American city is now a bona fide cultural meme.  Newspapers, magazines and digital media sites are publishing story after story about the morphing of urban grit and diversity into bastions of wealth and commodity culture.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02