Erik Organic is a cooperative project, to bring the artisanal craft of rural Amish furniture-makers to market.
Over the past 20 years, furniture sales from Erik Organic's design and marketing have brought in over $15,000,000 in revenue to the Amish crafters of Harmony Minnesota, which has helped the Amish community and the town of Harmony Minnesota to thrive economically.
20 Years of Creating Beautiful Furniture Art
We began working with a community of skilled woodworking crafters 20 years ago. They created spectacular-quality furniture, following the old traditions of woodworking that were passed down through the generations.
But their traditions were at risk of dying, because the crafters had no way of reaching customers outside of their isolated rural communities.
We solved that problem for them with The Internet 😊
Our furniture has ended up in some amazing places over the past 20 years…
A hope chest we created for the Hope for a Cure nonprofit foundation, which was then custom-painted and then signed by President Bush.
20 Years of Happy Customers
Bottom line, our customers LOVE our furniture. We've had 14 returns in 20 years, fulfilling customized construction requests for customers all across the United States.
Yes, our team is that good!
We design furniture that is made with with high-quality ingredients, created by people who love their work, with full disclosure of the sourcing and origin of our materials.
Organic is the Best Word to Describe Our Furniture
My grandfather Ludwig Schimek was one of the first organic farmers in the country, but no one called it organic at the time -- it was just good old-fashioned farming like he learned from his father. He sent his crops off for testing in California and gave tours of his farmland, showing how you can grow quality food without petroleum-based additives.
My company Erik Organic has led the way in bringing quality handmade furniture to a wide national market. Like my grandfather, we're not certified 'Organic' because we're ahead of the curve for our industry.
I decided to call my company Erik Organic in honor of companies like Tom's Toothpaste and Amy's Organics — companies that were founded with deep values of quality and integrity.
We are Still Ahead of the Curve
We have a spectacular customer satisfaction rate of over 99%+, sustained over 20 years.
Our customers tell us why: It's because our furniture is so beautiful, bringing a harmonious and warm feeling to their home. It's because we treat our customers like guests in our home, going out of our way to assure their full satisfaction.
When we look at 'competitors' to Erik Organic on the Internet, we find a surprising number of deceptive business practices.
Wood Descriptions: Many websites hide the fact that manufactured woods are extensively used in their furniture. Deception about the kind of wood being used is ubiquitous in the industry — just like it is with fish.
Most furniture available on the Internet is created with laminates, pressed boards, plywood, and other engineered 'wood'. This creates a profound difference in quality.
- Our furniture is created from 100% real hardwoods, and is crafted by people who have been working with the same hardwoods for 3 generations. We make furniture art
- Walnut, oak or cherry laminate on on top of pine lumber or pressed wood is incomparable to our furniture in quality, texture, durability, and beauty.
- This artificial grade of furniture is nearly impossible to repair, as the outer laminate layer is a manufactured material. It will show wear-and-tear much more quickly than furniture created from genuine hardwoods.
- Furniture created from artificial materials offgas artificial materials into the home, and they can accumulate over time. Each time this low-quality furniture is replaced, a new suite of artificial materials is introduced into the home to begin offgassing anew. While poorly constructed furniture is not the largest contributor to poor indoor air quality, it is one of the most easily preventable.
Furniture Origin: Many 'eco friendly' and 'we will replant a tree for every piece of furniture we sell' furniture companies either manufacture their furniture in Mexico, or drop-ship their furniture from South-East Asia.
We've also found numerous websites that promote ‘sustainably harvested wood’, while a bit of research reveals that the source of their materials is from endangered Asian or Brazilian rain forests.
It is worth noting that there are few laws regarding the safety of these imported furniture products, so you literally don't know what you're getting.
Erik Organic furniture contains only five ingredients: hardwood, hardware, woodworking glue + common woodworking binders, wood finish, and love of craft.
(If we add anything else, we note that in the product description).
Our furniture is made in the town of Harmony, Minnesota. We know where our hardwoods come from because they are locally grown, locally sourced, and sustainably replanted.
The Environmental Impact of Furniture
We also call our furniture Organic because we are mindful of the community and environmental impact of our business.
Sustainable Hardwoods: The solid hardwoods used in our furniture are locally grown and harvested. Local farmers plant trees on the hilly sections of land that can't be easily reached with tractors, and they plant corn and soy beans on the flat sections of land. This section of Minnesota is 'unglaciated' meaning that it wasn't crushed flat like the rest of Minnesota was during the last ice age.
The overwhelming majority of the wood used in our furniture does not travel more than 100 miles from where it is grown to the craftsman's workshop. By keeping production local, we reduce our impact on the environment.
We are also providing an income to local farmers to keep replanting beautiful hardwood trees, to assure that they'll be available for the next generation.
Make it Once, Make it Right: Mass-produced furniture created from artificial wood is often created in Asia, shipped to West Coast warehouses, and then shipped from these warehouses to distribution centers and/or stores in other parts of the country. This shipping has a substantial carbon impact.
Furniture created from manufactured 'fake' wood begins showing its age after just a few years, as composite wood cannot be repaired or refinished. Replacing this furniture requires the use of all new materials; this creates a large amount of waste.
Our furniture is created from locally grown hardwoods, and is shipped only once: directly from the community where it is made to the customer. We offer heirloom quality furniture that is designed to outlast the owner, so that it can be passed down to the next generation. This reduces the carbon footprint and environmental impact of our furniture, as the environmental costs of shipping and packing can be depreciated over a long period of time.
Hand Delivery — No Packing Waste: We have worked with our drivers and freight carriers to substitute moving blankets (which can be recycled) for styrofoam and other packing materials. As a result, we've substantially reduced our packing waste.
The Economic Impact: I grew up in a farm town of less than 100 people called Pemberton, that essentially disappeared during the farm crisis of the 1980s. It became an exurb with little of its previous economic and cultural vitality.
Because of this background, I am acutely aware of how important it is to bring revenue from the cities back into the rural economy through value-added services like furniture making.
Purchase of furniture from Erik Organic has substantial economic impact in a part of America that could really use the help -- the rural Midwest. We've done our part to keep the town and region of Harmony thriving for almost 20 years, and we've done it without seeking government subsidies or preferential tax breaks.
To be more specific, the purchase of Erik Organic furniture employs rural crafters who are able to maintain their woodworking traditions by crafting furniture in their own workshops to supplement their farming income.
This income has an enormous multiplier effect in their local farming community, because our crafters spend their money at the locally owned sawmill, grocery store and hardware store.
We create heirloom quality furniture that is created to last for generations if cared for properly, which is longer than the time it takes for the renewable resource (hardwoods) to regrow.
Our furniture is hand-made by Amish crafters, but 'Amish' isn't a word that we use frequently on our website. There are two reasons for this:
Reason #1 Our furniture is handcrafted by woodworkers who are part of a conservative Amish community. We respect their desire for privacy.
Due to their isolated geography and preference for limited English (non-Amish) contact, woodworking is one of the few ways their community has found to consistently provide for their families.
The trust relationship between Erik and our Amish crafters has taken nearly 20 years to build. It took 3 years of chatting to get Johnny to round the edges of his leather chairs to modernize them a bit; it took 12 years for Erik Organic to be approved of by the community, for being consistently beneficial for the community.
Reason #2 The quality of Erik Organic furniture is much higher quality than you will find on Amish Furniture websites or by going to your local Amish Furniture store.
Take our dining tables, for example. Chances are that if you order a handmade Amish dining table on the Internet, it was made in Indiana in specialized Amish-owned furniture factories. Their tables are beautiful! But the quality is incomparable with Erik Organic dining tables.
We've worked with our crafters and customers closely for 19 years to create the best furniture we can — in engineering terms, Erik Organic has developed a very tight and effective quality improvement process based on customer feedback.
One mark of this: Our tables weigh a lot more. Around twice as much more, according to several of our drivers.
That difference can be attributed to one thing: We create 'No Compromises' furniture and we don't skimp on the hardwood.
Erik Organic's Small-Batch Production
When you look at a piece of our furniture, we believe you can see the hands that made it. Our tables and bedroom sets aren't stamped out of a factory, our chests and dressers aren't glued together by massive machines. They're made by living, breathing people who bring generations of woodworking expertise to each piece.
The pride, care, family learning, and artistry of our furniture is clear from the very first day it arrives at your home.
Our crafter's work and mindset is that of a true artist. While crafting each individual piece, their equipment is the brush, the highest quality wood is his canvas, and the best finish that money can buy is the frame for his artwork.
Like anything handcrafted, obstacles can arise based on what each customer is looking for. They handle each challenge with ease and grace and is constantly learning and looking for ways to improve his process. The artist behind the work is apparent and clear when the finished piece is then hand delivered to each customer.
Erik Organic's Hand-Selected Wood Grains
All of our furniture pieces are handcrafted in small Amish workshops, not large furniture factories. The individual care and attention of an artisan woodworker is an indispensable part of the Erik Organic furniture-making process.
A story from one of our crafters:
"When Dan is working, he practices mindfulness by focusing on exactly what’s in front of him. While at the shop he is able to be very present with what he is doing, paying careful attention to detail, quality and the artistry of his craft. He truly loves what he does and that focus and enjoyment comes through his work. Dan loves a challenge and can be very selective when it comes to finding just the right wood. He pays attention to details like finding lumber that blends very well together and has similar features. He doesn’t cut any corners in his entire process, and this attention to quality and detail is what our customers love and appreciate about the furniture from Erik Organic.
A typical day for Dan involves waking up around 6 or 6:30am to feed and give water to the pigs and horses, and gather eggs from the chickens. He heads to the shop around 7:00am and works until around 5pm with an hour lunch break. When he gets home he works on his “honey do list” and also takes care of his pigs, horses and chickens before going to bed. A full but fulfilling day, Dan truly enjoys making furniture. He says it’s a blessing to practice this craft that can be passed down to his own sons one day."
Erik Organic's Sustainable Production
"Sustainable" is a buzzword you often hear these days, but for us, it's a solid part of our business plan. We create furniture that will last longer than it takes to grow new hardwoods to replace the ones we harvest. We make sure that our furniture has a positive impact on the rural Minnesota community in which it's made.
Our furniture is designed and built to outlast its buyer, meaning we avoid the destructive cycle of disposal, re-manufacture, and repeated shipping.
Our solid hardwoods are locally grown and harvested by rural farmers, often located within 100 miles of our workshops. This provides financial benefit to farmers who have sections of their land set aside for selective hardwood harvesting, tree-lined wind breaks, and tree farms. The local sourcing also assures an incredibly high level of quality and consistency in our hardwoods.
We have built a sustainable business that financially supports the things that matter to us — functional and beautiful furniture art, employing wise land use practices, and keeping our communities thriving economically and culturally.
Our Furniture is Created Within a Community
At Erik Organic we believe in upholding our end of the social contract by being responsible to our customers, our employees, to the land, and to the community at large.
Our collective of family-built workshops are all located near each other in a rural Minnesota community where work is never separate from family. Living so close to each other allows our craftsmen to share woodworking expertise, help one another when there's a family emergency, and teach apprentice woodworkers who will continue these traditions into the next generations.
Eli shared his story with us a few years ago, and I think it helps to understand the level of crafters that Erik Organic works with. Their furniture art and community are deeply linked together:
"Eli lives a humble life on his family’s farm. His workshop is only a few feet away from his home so he visits his wife throughout the day and walks home after a hard day’s work. He is only a buggy trip away from his friends and visits them whenever he can. Eli is content with simple pleasures like this. Appreciating nature on long walks, enjoying the company of his loved ones and creating furniture has given his life true meaning.
His wonderful life has made Eli a joyful and animated man, something that becomes immediately evident from the very first moment you meet him. He is extremely kind, bears no ill will towards anyone and wants everyone to live a happy life. Many people have gone to him to learn the trade and not only has he shared his skills, he has helped them to set themselves up as independent workers. Eli believes that his skills should not be used to beat the local competition, but to help his wider community to enjoy the same successes he has enjoyed. A vibrant local community where everyone helps each other out is something he steadfastly stands by.
As an expert in furniture and a loving father and husband, Eli has had a wonderful influence on his community and the Erik Organic family. We are all blessed to have him in our lives.
To our customers, Eli is not just a table maker. He is a friend; someone who will always endeavor to produce the furniture of your dreams."