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Whitney Brothers was recognized for its Whitney Plus chair, which received the 2013 IIDA EdSpaces Innovation Award in the furniture category at the recent trade show. (COURTESY)

Innovation

Keene firm's children’s furniture line recognized for innovation


KEENE — Right out of the gate, the new premium children’s furniture line Whitney Plus has already won an industry award, Whitney Brothers announced.

Whitney Brothers, the 110-year-old Keene-based children’s furniture manufacturer, won the 2013 International Interior Design Association EdSpaces Innovation Award in the furniture category for the Whitney Plus line’s chairs at the National School Supply & Equipment Association EdSpaces show in December, before the line was even available commercially, said Brian Vaillancourt, vice president of sales and marketing.

The new line of children’s educational and institutional furniture fills a seldom filled niche in the industry, Vaillancourt said.

It addresses “a well-funded, higher-end segment of the education and institutional market whose purchases are typically driven by discerning architects and designers,” he said.

“It will take us into new markets, new sales opportunities, and along the way it will also accelerate our growth,” Vaillancourt said.

According to Whitney Brothers President David Stabler, the new line also celebrates the company’s 110th anniversary.

“To celebrate the milestone of our 110th anniversary in 2014, we wanted to create something special but relevant,” Stabler said in a news release. “Through research, we identified a discerning customer who’s less impacted by the challenges of publicly-funded budgets. We then partnered with an acclaimed furniture designer who understood and shared our vision to create an entirely new collection of exceptional children’s furniture that appeals to that customer segment.”

The company is renowned for its quality, Vaillancourt said, and has been seeing high levels of growth for the past three years.

In 2011 sales went up 6 percent from the previous year, in 2012 sales went up 25 percent from the previous year, and in 2013 sales went up 22 percent from the previous year.

“So that’s growth on growth on growth, which is significantly compounded growth,” he said.

Pieces in the new line include chairs, desks and tables with interchangeable legs that grow with children; storage cabinets that can be color-coordinated with chairs and tables; play housekeeping cabinets with clever modular panel inserts; a writing desk with striking design elements and matching art center; and a sand and water table.

mpierce@newstote.com

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