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The Story of Erik Organic
Sometimes, things happen for a reason. Like the day in 2001 when Erik Schimek met Jonas, a furniture craftsman whose family had just begun making beautiful handmade cedar chests.
Erik was immediately drawn to the sheer beauty and dedicated workmanship of this world-class furniture. He couldn't get it out of his mind.
After visiting with more of these working families, Erik felt that this was a special opportunity. He wanted to help these builders by making people throughout America aware that this unique furniture was available to them, but without interrupting the special traditions and lifestyles of the people who made it.
Erik set out to build a company that uses the very latest in sales and delivery technology, while always respecting the careful old-world handcrafting of the wood. It's this balance of the best of both worlds that has served Erik Organic so well.
Erik Organic now delivers over 1,000 pieces of our handmade furniture a year, from California to Maine, to the tip of Florida and the upper reaches of Washington state. From those initial cedar chests, we've developed a range of hardwoods used in a stunning array of rocking chairs, dining tables, chests, benches, bedroom sets and more.
We started small, and we have continued to manage our growth so that we always stay in touch with the roots of our company. With our unshakeable commitment to our customers, our builder communities, and to creating a thoughtful and environmentally sound business, we intend to keep Erik Organic around as long as the furniture we sell.
The Erik Organic Team
We create the highest quality furniture in the world -- and it starts with our quality team of experts.
A true Midwesterner with a knack for innovation, Erik launched Erik Organic in 2001, when people were just beginning to see how the Internet could open up our ability to find products from all over the world. He was able to do something no one else has ever done as well: use new world technology and solid business sense to make handmade furniture from rural craftsmen available to every corner of America.
Erik loves what he does, and feels proud that he is able to empower so many families in our builder communities. Having a national market for their furniture means our craftsmen can continue the lifestyle that has been at the heart of who they are for well over a hundred years. Erik sees his company as part of keeping those traditions alive and growing.
Erik also believes strongly in protecting our environment and making wise use of our renewable natural resources. Upholding its part of the social contract that says we all need to care for the world we live in is one of the central missions of Erik Organic. That commitment to responsible building comes directly from Erik himself.
When he isn't watching over the details of Erik Organic, Erik loves to travel and photograph nature (ask him about Hawaii sometime when you have a couple of hours to spare). He's also an avid hiker who can be found every weekend out exploring the trails and sites around his new hometown of Austin, Texas.
Gail is Erik Organic's do-it-all superstar. In addition to working on our sales staff, Gail doubles up as our reigning accountant and bookkeeper.
As a Minnesotan herself, Gail has the opportunity to regularly visit the communities and family workshops where our furniture is made, which helps explain her obvious enthusiasm, deep love for, and thorough knowledge of every piece we offer. Gail's affection for the builders and the furniture they create is obvious in everything she says. Just start a conversation with her and you'll see!
Gail spends her free time exploring the rugged, natural beauty of Minnesota. She's a gardener, loves good coffee, and as her two cats, Bitten and Benny will tell you, is a dedicated animal lover.
Oh, and if all that isn't enough, she's also Erik's Mom.
Cody is our go-to-for-all-things office coordinator at Erik Organic. He keeps things running smoothly by making sure that he knows what's going on at every step of our process. He also lends a hand in sales and customer service when needed.
Born in California, raised in Minnesota, Cody is a Vikings fan who can usually be found in his off hours out in the woods on his grandparents' farm, hunting deer and enjoying the beauty of the Minnesota countryside.
Rachel has worked for over 9 years in non-profits and issue advocacy from Washington, D.C. to Austin, Texas where she currently resides. After years of fighting uphill to influence policy, Rachel is excited to be a part of a strong team at Erik Organic, a true small business creating jobs and high quality, hand crafted furniture for one family at a time. Rachel is working directly under Erik on marketing and sales as Erik Organic continues to expand business and deliver new product lines.
Now that Rachel is settled into Austin with her dog named Roscoe, she looks forward to furnishing her apartment with Erik Organic furniture right away!
While having the most "Minnesota-like" Scandinavian name, Lars was born in Sweden, and is practically a lifelong Silicon Valley resident. He currently resides in San Francisco.
Lars worked for over 16 years in sales and relationship management in the Silicon Valley technology world. He's been with exciting, fast paced technology start ups, as well as Fortune 500 companies. After years of working with software, Lars loves being part of a company that makes amazing, hand crafted furniture. You could say he's moved from the software business, to hardware side of things.
Lars loves meeting and talking with all kinds of people, getting to know them, and help them achieve their goals.
Lars and Erik became friends a few years ago, and at first sight, Lars was amazed at the quality of Erik Organic's furniture, and wanted to be a part of it.
Lars likes to go hiking the hills that surround the San Francisco Bay Area, hop on a Light Rail car to explore the city, play ice hockey, cooking, and visit his mom to walk her dogs.
Benny and Bitten
Bitten has 5 years experience in keyboard warming, and is an integral part of our 'Make Sure Every Invoice Has Cat Hair On It' recycling campaign.
Benny keeps close watch over the office, keeping it safe from boxelder bugs and errant slips of paper that 'just happen to fall on the floor'.
Amazing furniture requires amazing photographers, and we have two! Jeremy Bergo has been snapping shots for us for over a decade, and, like so many of our employees, is a Minnesotan and friend of Erik's for over 30 years. When he's not shutterbugging, you'll find Jeremy either in his organic garden, or flipping through any form of Minnesota sports he can find.
Tom is our other top notch photographer. His specialties in both commercial and artistic photography clearly show in the beautiful work he does. Tom loves to travel, root for Minnesota Wild hockey, chill with his wife Colleen, and relax with Arbus, his black and white cat.
When your business depends on creating furniture that both wows and pleases your customers for years to come, it's essential that your builders are absolutely world-class. And we're sure that ours are. If you have a moment, take the opportunity to meet the unique people who build the furniture that we ship from their community directly to your home.
Eli, Master Tablemaker
No one typifies the Erik Organic spirit better than Eli. Eli created his first piece of furniture in the 1970's, when he was 17, and his abilities as a craftsman and designer have grown with each passing year, to where now he is literally one of the most impressive table makers in the world. He's a priceless part of our company, and his dedication, experience, and generosity of heart shows through in every piece he builds.
Eli's workshop sits on his family's 168-acre farm in Minnesota, allowing him to work close enough to his home to pop in throughout the day to stay involved in his family's life. His unbreakable connection to his land, family, and community all help to infuse his work with that special sense of timelessness and usefulness a true piece of family furniture should have.
What most typifies Eli's work is his ability to blend architectural soundness with his own artistic designs to create tables that are both visually and structurally stunning. People literally stop when they see an Eli table, they want to touch it, and hear the story behind it. Which is even more impressive when you realize that Eli is self-taught. He learned design by doing the work, exploring his own imagination, and talking to other craftsmen whose work he admired. Which literally means you can't get this furniture anywhere else in the world. Eli's tables are indeed unique.
Eli's contributions don't stop just with his work, he believes in being a positive part of a community, and helping others. He's trained countless apprentices and fellow builders, and is always ready to share his knowledge with anyone who shares his love of furniture.
Having someone like Eli work with us for over a decade is one of our proudest accomplishments, and a sure sign that we're doing something right at Erik Organic.
Johnny, Master Chair Maker
There is no more difficult a piece of furniture to create than a hardwood chair, if for nothing else than for the reason that chairs are so clearly comfortable or not comfortable to their users. Lucky for us, our chair maker, Johnny, is a master at making what beautiful, comfortable, and what is comfortable, beautiful.
Johnny is truly a master furniture maker, with an attention to detail and standard for quality that is unmatched as far as we have seen. He meticulously tests each of his new chair designs through a prototype process that allows him to make sure his furniture is durable, stylish, and useable. He knows that no matter how pretty a chair is, if you don't enjoy sitting on it, it's not serving its purpose.
Like Eli, Johnny's history with Erik Organic goes back many years, which isn't surprising since Johnny has been partnering with Eli to make chairs to compliment Eli's tables for decades. Johnny lives in the same Minnesota community where all of our furniture is built, and as if we needed any more evidence of how much people like Johnny's work, he's building a brand new, larger workshop to continue to expand his capacity to make our chairs!
Our Delivery Professionals
Simon delivers the majority of our furniture in the Southern United States. He was raised and grew up Amish in Southeastern Minnesota. At the age of 18 he left the culture in hopes to someday own and operate his own trucking company so he could see the country. In Simon's free time he enjoys golfing he also lo ves traveling to different parts of the country, meeting new people, and admiring the different cultures. He also plans to travel around the world someday when the kids are out of school and time allows.
Dennis delivers furniture in the Western United Sates. He was born and raised Amish until deciding to leave the way of life at the age of twenty. Dennis started his own construction business in 2005 which he still owns and has a crew working under him while he's out delivering furniture. He lives in Southeastern Minnesota with his family, and is an avid hunter. Dennis is Emery Swartzentruber's brother.
Emery delivers furniture mostly to the Western United States. He was raised and grew up Amish. At the age of 17 he left the culture in hopes to some day own and operate his own trucking company. First, he went to work as a carpenter and later as a driver for a local trucking company. Four years after leaving the Amish community he pursued his dream of owning and operating his own trucking company. He has been in the trucking industry for a total of nine years.
Emery lives in Southeastern Minnesota with his wife and four year old daughter. Together they enjoy going for rides in their First Edition Dodge Challenger, 4-wheeling, traveling and vacationing. Emery is the brother of Dennis Swartzentruber.
Heather is the wife of Emery and has been dispatching and working in the office since the business was formed in 2007. Heather especially enjoys talking with the customers and hearing their excitement knowing their furniture is soon arriving!