|Founder||Wilton C. Dinges|
|Gregg Buchbinder, CEO and owner|
Emeco is a privately held company based in Hanover, Pennsylvania. The iconic Emeco 1006, known as the Navy Chair, has been in continuous production since the 1940s. Today, Emeco manufactures furniture collections designed by internationally recognized designers and architects such as Philippe Starck and Norman Foster.
Wilton C. Dinges founded the Electric Machine and Equipment Company (Emeco) in 1944 with $300 in savings and a used lathe for machine-work. He started bidding on government manufacturing contracts out of a loft in Baltimore, Maryland, beginning with experimental antennas and jet engine parts. Dinges moved to Hanover, Pennsylvania in 1946 in order to take advantage of the local labor market. He obtained 10,000 pounds of aluminum scrap metal at an attractive price and started using it to build dining table legs. Later he manufactured chair frames and eventually focused completely on aluminum chairs in 1948. The Emeco 1006 chair the company would become known for was one of several furniture products, such as bunks and lockers, Emeco made for the US Navy's fleet during World War II, out of an anodized aluminum material. The business grew by under-bidding other manufacturers on government contracts for office building furniture. By 1953, there were four Emeco factories in Hanover.
By 1955, Emeco was producing 200,000 chairs per year. Dinges developed the chairs and Emeco's manufacturing process, but he was not a good businessman and due to the elaborate manufacturing process, found it hard to generate a profit. By 1979 the company was not receiving enough new government contracts to stay in business and was nearing bankruptcy.
Emeco was sold that year to Jay Buchbinder who tried unsuccessfully to revive the military end of the business. Buchbinder's son, Gregg, acquired Emeco from his father in 1998. He noticed that Giorgio Armani and other designers showed an interest in the 1006 chair, so he decided to focus on those and similar products. In 1999 the company posted a profit for the first time in more than 20 years. Gregg met French designer Philippe Starck at the 1998 International Contemporary Furniture Fair and the two agreed to collaborate on numerous designer versions of the 1006 Navy chair. By 2004 these accounted for half of Emeco's production, or 46,500 chairs per year.
Use of Recycled & Reclaimed Materials
Emeco is noted for their use of recycled and reclaimed materials.
In October 2012, Emeco filed a lawsuit against Restoration Hardware for allegedly violating their trademark and trade dress by selling look-alikes of the Emeco Navy chair, which Restoration Hardware called the “Naval Chair”. Restoration Hardware renamed the chair, then removed them from their website. In January 2013, Restoration Hardware agreed to stop selling the disputed chairs and to recycle their existing stock.
Emeco filed a design right and copyright infringement case against Swedish furniture giant IKEA in 2015, alleging that IKEA’s Melltorp dining chair was similar to the Emeco 20-06 Stacking Chair designed by Norman Foster in 2006. In May 2016 Emeco accepted an out-of-court settlement from IKEA, both companies issued a joint statement announcing that a deal had been reached. Details of the deal remain confidential.
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