The furniture all starts with the same pieces of wood. Southern yellow pine from Alabama comes into the shop in 8-foot pieces, about 1-3/8-inch square. Tens of thousands of those pieces each year are cut, sanded, drilled and assembled into furniture at GloDea, a small shop at the dead end of Copeland Street in North Riverside.

 

About 4,000 pieces go out of that shop each year. Some are sold on GloDea’s own website, but most go through huge online retailers such as Amazon and Overstock.

Amazon has 43 different GloDea products listed this week, priced from $35 to $432. The online giant usually has about 1,000 of the company’s items in its warehouses, said Dan Miller, the president.

Ignacio Santos, a native of Brazil who is still the lead designer, founded the company in 2008 when he and Fabian Ramos started making chairs in a friend’s garage. The chair sold, the company grew. Miller bought into the company in 2014.

The basic design of the chair goes back a couple hundred years, Santos said, in the Spanish areas of South and Central America. But they’ve expanded their products into tables, benches and stools, all made from those same pieces of Alabama pine.

“One piece of wood, one screw, one rod and one nut,” Santos said. In all, they’ve got 511 different products in the marketplace, counting all the models, all the colors.

It’s a simple process, said Miller about the cutting and drilling. They’ve got a machine that allows them to drill 10 pieces at a time, rather than just one like they used to.

“We had 10 employees at one time,” he said. “But you can’t stay in business like that. We had to streamline.”


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They do handstain each piece in one of 24 colors. They’ve tried other ways, Miller said, but none work as well. They warranty the furniture for one year, but the stain sealer has a 4- to 8-year warranty by the manufacturer

Meanwhile, the company is branching out beyond the furniture. A new CNC machine cost about $30,000 and cuts a variety of materials into whatever 3-D shapes are fed into the computer. Right now, they’re cutting foam to make a sign for a company in Charlotte and wooden photo frames to sell under their own brand.

And they’re going into custom LED lighting.

“It’s all about design,” Santos said.

They sell office chairs made in Italy from a designer in their network. They had a smart phone remote to take photos, but that didn’t take off.

“Cheaper ones flooded the market,” Miller said. “And then phones added their own internal timers.”

But now they’ve got an anti-bacterial toothbrush holder in the works. And they’re marketing the RidePower, a phone charger that runs off sports vehicles, anything from 12 to 48 volts.

Steve Young, a retired Marine and local police officer, invented it, Miller said. He couldn’t keep his phone charged on his jet ski and off-the-shelf adapters didn’t work. He hired an engineer and they created the prototype before GloDea ran into him at One Spark.

Young was going to have it made in the United States, but Miller said that made it too expensive. So now it’s made in China and retails for $34.98 on Amazon.

Miller couldn’t give an exact figure other than to say that it’s sold thousands.

“We’ve got the contacts that we’ve made all over the world,” Miller said, “and we’ve spent the last nine years setting up the infrastructure.”

Roger Bull: (904) 359-4296