published Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Small Biz: The Industrial Farmhouse brings custom furniture to Chattanooga

David Mitchell, president and COO of the Industrial Farmhouse, talks about the workmanship that goes into their unique furniture built on West 20th Street.
David Mitchell, president and COO of the Industrial Farmhouse, talks about the workmanship that goes into their unique furniture built on West 20th Street.
Photo by Tim Barber.

• Name: The Industrial Farmhouse

• Owners: David Mitchell and Mark Oldham

• Location: 411 W. 20th Street, Chattanooga

• Service: Handmade furniture design and manufacturing

• Opened: The company filed for its articles of incorporation in March

• Staff: Eight full-time and two part-time employees

• How it got started: David Mitchell and Mark Oldham couldn’t find tables that looked quite right for TerraMae Appalachian Bistro, their upscale restaurant at Stone Fort Inn. So, last September, Mitchell got creative and designed a table himself. The “TerraMae bar,” as it’s informally called, has been Industrial Farmhouse’s most popular seller, at $595. Before opening shop in Southside, Mitchell worked out of a wood shop in the attic of his North Chattanooga home. Mitchell’s wife, Melanie Hockenberry, suggested he put the pieces on etsy.com. The company still sells through the handmade marketplace website, though not exclusively.

• What is unique: All of the furniture is handmade, and as much as possible comes from reclaimed wood and metal. Barns, warehouses and factories are the best sources for old wood, and Industrial Farmhouse often finds out the timber through word-of-mouth. Industrial Farmhouse pieces have a narrow signature texture along their edges, created by a metal grinding bit.

• Strategy: All the wood and metal workers can contribute to designing and building the furniture. The process sometimes starts with Mitchell posing a conceptual idea: a wood-beam couch or a bike rack, for example. In the case of the bike rack, some team members came up with and then created three unconventional wall-mounted prototypes (one of which includes a bookshelf), which should be available for sale in the coming week. The team does all the work on-site, from cutting and clamping to sanding and adding metal accents. Several team members don’t have run-of-the-mill titles: Steve Luttman is a “Wood Guru,” and Daniel Balog is a “Metal Master,” for example.

• Online: theindustrialfarmhouse.com

• Phone: 423-805-7415

Compiled by staff writer Mitra Malek, who can be reached at mmalek@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6406.

about Mitra Malek...

Mitra Malek writes about business, with a focus on the Chattanooga area's tech, small business and entrepreneurial communities, as well as tourism. Before coming to the Times Free Press, she was a staff writer for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Tampa Bay Business Journal, Journal Inquirer and Palm Beach Post. She has covered local and national politics, government, international trade, a state cancer cluster investigation and real estate growth and economic development, among other subjects. Her reporting ...

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