The buzz of chop saws mingles seamlessly with the aroma of welding gases inside a repurposed cotton mill at 13th and Jackson streets in Downtown Phoenix, and Greg Hankerson couldn’t be happier about it.
This is Vintage Industrial (retro.net), the custom furniture company Hankerson founded with a single table and a singular vision. Whether the end result is a coaster or a desk, Vintage’s aesthetic subtly merges the echoes of the industrial past with modern handcrafted artistry. Producing an average of five to 10 finished pieces a week, Vintage caters to top-level clientele like Armani, Google and Four Seasons resorts.
Hankerson’s route to becoming a CEO wasn’t what he’d planned – after undergoing surgery for a brain tumor, he took a step back from his accounting studies, and decided crunching numbers wasn’t what he wanted to do with his life. Energetic, yet soft-spoken, he recalls how he went from backyard artist to a full-blown entrepreneur: “It all started because my wife wanted a table. So I built her one… after posting some pics on the Internet, I started receiving requests, and here we are, five years later.”
“I like to think that we’re more a family than a company,” he continues. “We offer profit-sharing after they’ve been here a year, as I don’t think it’s entirely fair to keep the rewards that so many have worked to create.”
Spinning off that point of view, Vintage has taken steps to reduce its carbon footprint. For every tree that’s consumed by outgoing products, Vintage replants one via its reforestation program. Hankerson’s planted 67 trees so far, and hopes to plant 1,000.
Seeing the forest for the tables – that will keep those chop saws buzzing for some time to come.
– Wayne Michael Reich