Amish furniture start-up leans on Google trends and market research for launch
August 2, 2017 | 4:10 pm CDT

LANCASTER, Pa. - What happens when millennial consumers meet Amish traditions?

At Wood Pro Expo, business founder Steve Riehl will detail the thinking behind his July 1 launch of Knot & Ore. The Lancaster, Pennsylvania furniture start-up, rooted in Amish traditions of craftsmanship, researched trending preferences among consumers for chic industrial style design. 

A Knot & Ore live edge table
The idea for the company started when the craftsmen at Breeo, a local steel manufacturing company, and Riehl at Byerstown Woodworks, started discussing doing wood/metal urban industrial furniture.
"Of all the Amish manufacturing companies in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana, there didn't appear to be anyone building this type of furniture," Riehl says. 
Those original discussions morphed into real designing and manufacturing, and the company Knot & Ore was born. The concept of building quality, locally made urban industrial furniture is the primary aim of Knot & Ore, Riehl says.
Austin Fahnestock
Along with Riehl the team at Knot & Ore includes Austin Fahnestock, who focuses on design, customer relations, and 3D visualizations; Jonathan Miller, who has a background in furniture marketing and is developing wholesale distribution networks for Knot & Ore;  and Amos Stoltzfus, who has spent more than 15 years in custom metal fabrication, and handles designing, welding, and finishing exquisite metal frames and bases for Knot & Ore.  
Among the signatures of Knot & Ore's design are live edge, along with careful hand finishing. The iconic rough edge, open knot holes, and irregularities of live edge furniture have become a fixture of high-end furniture design. "The trend has seen an uptick since 1946 when George Nakashima showcased live-edge pieces in his series for Knoll," Riehl says. "We source all of our live edge pieces from Eastern Pennsylvania. We use walnut, oak, elm & box alder among others."
Since then the style has become more and more popular, and Google search data supports that. Searches for live edge at Google have been rising in the last two years. 
Riehl will make his presentation on the launch of  Knot & Ore on October 20 during the Wood Pro Expo program in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. It is one of 10 educational sessions being presented during the show on October 19 and 20. 

Wood Pro Expo is the regional show series that brings education, equipment, and supplies close to cabinetmakers and custom woodworking businesses around the country. It will include a strong educational program on best practices for shop production, and as well as an expo oriented to equipment and supplies geared to the small and medium size shops, including CNC basics, employee recruitment, finishing, lean manufacturing, business management, software, and shop safety.
Launched in 2014 in Baltimore, the show moves this year to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and will appear in multiple cities in 2018, including Charlotte, North Carolina on February15-16, 2018. 

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About the author
Bill Esler | ConfSenior Editor

Bill wrote for, FDMC and Closets & Organized Storage magazines. 

Bill's background includes more than 10 years in print manufacturing management, followed by more than 30 years in business reporting on industrial manufacturing in the forest products industries, including printing and packaging at American Printer (Features Editor) and Graphic Arts Monthly (Editor in Chief) magazines; and in secondary wood manufacturing for

Bill was deeply involved with the launches of the Woodworking Network Leadership Forum, and the 40 Under 40 Awards programs. He currently reports on technology and business trends and develops conference programs.

In addition to his work as a journalist, Bill supports efforts to expand and improve educational opportunities in the manufacturing sectors, including 10 years on the Print & Graphics Scholarship Foundation; six years with the U.S. WoodLinks; and currently on the Woodwork Career Alliance Education Committee. He is also supports the Greater West Town Training Partnership Woodworking Program, which has trained more than 950 adults for industrial wood manufacturing careers. 

Bill volunteers for Foinse Research Station, a biological field station staddling the border of Ireland and Northern Ireland, one of more than 200 members of the Organization of Biological Field Stations.