A Glimpse into the Smith Brothers Family
Nestled in the heart of this magnificent country, lies the small town of Berne, Indiana. Set apart from the fast paced, trend chasing city centers, you are more likely to hear the clip clop of horse feet than sirens or blaring horns. Fields stretch across the horizon and time-honored traditions govern daily life. It is here that a sense of pride in quality craftsmanship grows deep. This community, who’s rich history has instilled integrity and respected values, is the foundation for Smith Brothers upholstery.
Every decision here is made with a heart for people. Whether it be the quality of lumber framing the furniture or the types of games to be played at the company picnic, it all comes down to doing what is right, not only for the customer, but for the family of employees.
This is why nothing, but the best is considered when it comes to sourcing components for each and every Smith Brothers piece. Hardwood maple, steel coil springs, highest quality foam, gorgeous textiles, top grain leathers and more are all selected for their strength, durability, and beauty. Each sofa, chair, or ottoman is designed to be a treasured part of a home for years to come.
A Man Named Homer Niederhauser
Today’s Smith Brothers of Berne owes its humble 1926 beginnings to Homer Neiderhauser and the Dunbar Furniture company. It began as a manufacturer of lower price point chairs to supplement the high-end furniture being produced by Dunbar in Berne. Although it began as the Homer Manufacturing Company, its first manager, Orv Smith and his brother Les Smith, soon bought a majority share in the company. From 1936 to 1960, the Smith brothers successfully grew their company in the shadow of the likes of Dunbar and Berne Furniture. They changed the name to the Smith Brothers Furniture Manufacturing Company.
In 1960, the Smith brothers retired and sold their shares to Les’ son-in-law Carl Muselman and his brother, Art Muselman. Because of the growing reputation of the company, the Muselman’s kept the Smith Brothers title, but adjusted the company name to Smith Brothers of Berne, Inc.
By 1970, times were hard. The Muselman’s turned to a successful manager at Berne Furniture for help. It took an offer of 50% ownership, but Fred Lehman took the reins at the struggling Smith Brothers. He was slowly able to turn the tides. Bringing on his younger brother Steve in the mid-seventies, proved to be his best decision. The pair barely had two pennies to rub together, but hard work, honesty, determination, and prayer paid off.
By 1985, Fred promoted Steve to president and stepped back to the level of vice president himself. With strong roots in an upbringing that stressed integrity and quality, the duo proved unstoppable. Smith Brothers continued to thrive under their leadership.
When Fred retired and sold out to Steve, there was no pause in the year over year pattern of continued growth. In fact, Smith Brothers has continued to increase in sales nearly every year since the mid-1970s!
Today, Smith Brothers employs over 525 people, has almost 500,000 square feet between two factories, and produces over 2,100 pieces of upholstery every week! This far exceeds the 30 employees, 43,000 square feet, and 75 pieces per week of the mid-1970s!
With sales numbers soaring, an unscathed reputation, and continued expansion, it would be easy for this to go to Steve’s head. Arrogance, however, is not a pillar in the community of Berne, Indiana. One is far more likely to catch a glimmer of a tear in Steve’s eye as he discusses the welfare and livelihood of his over 500 employees. They are near and dear to his heart. The wellbeing of the company has so much more to do with happy and healthy employees and customers than dollars in the pocket. It is with this heartfelt motivation that every day to day decision is made with the utmost care.
Smith Brothers has a history of brotherly love that extends to the current management and will be carried along with future generations of leaders.
This rich history and strong bond of integrity is built into the very structure of each piece of Smith Brothers upholstery. There is much confidence to be had in a product that is so deeply infused with a foundation such as this.