There is no bigger affirmation of the access that D.R. Dimes & Co. took to accomplish high-end aboriginal American reproduction appliance than the conception of “the world’s greatest seat-drilling machine.”
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Douglas Dimes, who owns the close that his ancestor started in 1964, advised the apparatus with the advice of abounding staffers. They capital to acceleration up assembly of the Windsor chairs that accept been the company’s mainstay for decades.
“My ancestor said, ‘We like duke techniques but we’re aggravating to run a business,’ ” said Dimes.
One adversity in architecture a Windsor chair, Dimes explained on a contempo bout of the Northwood factory, is that a dozen or added holes charge be accomplished into the seat, anniversary at a hardly altered angle, to authority the spindles that accomplish up the chair’s arched back. Adjusting the bend of the assignment columnist by duke amid anniversary aperture is time-consuming and laborious. So Dimes & Co. created a computer-controlled assignment press.
As Dimes demonstrated, you catch the bench assimilate the assignment bed, bulk the computer-aided-design file, affairs ambit like aperture abyss and bend into the touchscreen, again bend aback and watch the bed hinge and axis and assignment a hole, again axis to change the bend for the abutting hole, and so on – until you’ve got a Windsor armchair bench accessible for the abutting date of production. It’s anesthetic to watch and able to operate.
“This is the alone apparatus like it in the world, I think,” said Dimes, aural both appreciative and sad.
Why sad? Because the apparatus is for sale, forth with a extraordinary accumulating of added woodworking accessories and accoutrement and the company’s absolute 26,000-square-foot factory. After 54 years, D.R. Dimes & Co. has gone out of business, a victim of alteration demographics and economics.
The company, which had 40 advisers and anniversary sales of $3.6 actor at its peak, was started by Dimes’ father, additionally called Douglas. The adolescent Douglas, built-in in Epping, said his aboriginal job came back he was 10 years old. After academy he had to ambit out the tiny “dump” of a boutique area his ancestor congenital the business through adamantine assignment and persistence.
Then came the 1976 Bicentennial, which additional absorption in aboriginal American furniture, Dimes said. “That was a sea of change.”
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D.R. Dimes & Co. grew fast in its Northwood home, architecture as abounding as 6,000 Windsor chairs a year at peak. A adverse blaze in 1991 destroyed the business, but the Dimes’ congenital their accepted factory, complete with a 62,000-gallon alembic for a advanced calm sprinkler system, and aloof kept growing.
They added curve of aboriginal American furniture, such as simple end tables, affected bed frames able abundant to authority up a full-sized Cadillac (Dimes has the photo to prove it), agitation chairs, dining tables, aerial boys and big channelled desks.
They awash to museums and food and companies and additionally saw some high-profile orders, such as a half-million dollars from Phillips Exeter Academy to body the school’s appropriate Harkness apprenticeship tables, or $350,000 to body replicas of the 101 desks in the U.S. Senate for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute in Boston.
But D.R. Dimes & Co. thrived on sales to alone home-owners, aboriginal through specialty retails shops like the long-departed Colonial Corner in Concord and after anon to consumers.
They depended aloft the decorating tastes of upper-middle-class Baby Boomers, Dimes said, who capital affection pieces of celebrated reproduction appliance and were able to absorb $150 on a armchair or abounding times that bulk on a board or, actual occasionally, as abundant as $22,000 on a attractive bonnet-top secretary with abstruse drawers and hidden compartments.
The botheration is that bazaar aloof keeps shrinking. “The aftermost 10 years, dealers started to go out of business,” Dimes said. “We started accident money, accident customers.”
First came the 2008 recession, which clobbered pocketbooks and larboard Baby Boomers in a bind. “They’re afraid about their parents, afraid about their accouchement still active at home,” Dimes said.
Worse than that, he said, is a “structural problem” with the market: Baby Boomers are accepting old and accept amorphous downsizing.
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“The bodies who like our articles … it got so they had too abundant stuff. I’d allocution to a chump and I’d apprehend ‘We’re affairs the house. We accept to get rid of bisected my stuff,’ ” Dimes said.
When appliance gets handed down, the abutting bearing has to buy beneath new pieces. To admixture matters, it turns out that Millennials and added post-Boomer ancestors don’t absolutely appetite aboriginal American reproductions – or abundant in the way of new appliance at all.
As an archetype Dimes, 52, tells the adventure of his aggregation accountant, a adolescent woman.
“I asked her, how abundant did you absorb on your cellphones? ‘Maybe $1,100, all together.’ How abundant did you absorb on your kitchen cabinets? ‘We bought it at a flea bazaar for 100 bucks.’ And there you go,” he said.
The aggregation approved aberration out into mid-century avant-garde and added styles, but couldn’t agitate its acceptability with beforehand styles, Dimes said. “Our branding was too strong.”
He said the aggregation couldn’t advance on the low-end of the bazaar – “we can’t go bargain abundant to attempt with the Chinese” – and couldn’t allow to accommodated the whims of the ultra-rich. Caught in a shrinking average market, Dimes said he had no best but to end the firm.
“I was aflutter of disaster. I didn’t appetite it to be a bearings area the advisers appearance up one day and the advanced aperture is locked. Back that happens, advisers get screwed, barter get screwed, vendors get screwed. I capital to at atomic try to do it with some dignity,” he said. “It was a gut-wrenching decision.”
A airing through the accomplishment facility, which has been tidied up in alertness for a huge bargain Saturday, Dec. 1, reflects the way D.R. Dimes innovated with computer-controlled machines like the bench driller, and additionally its arduous size.
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“We accept added than 100 routers,” acclaimed Dimes, apropos to the woodworking apparatus that shapes the edges of copse or address out accustomed shapes, as he gave a quick bout of the premises.
Dimes said assembly from Paul McInnis, the New Hampton agent who will handle the sale, told him they rarely see added than bisected a dozen in agnate sales.
“We’ve got shapers, planers. Dust-collection systems – two of them,” said Dimes, gesturing to the larboard and appropriate as he absolved through the factory.
On benches and tables and blind from walls you see an about endless cardinal of clamps of all shapes and sizes dangling from hooks on around every wall; ability accoutrement galore; duke accoutrement as simple as hammers and as alien as Japanese duke saws, which cut on the cull rather than on the advance like American saws; a beef arrangement for angle and abstraction wood; and throughout the accessories you’ll acquisition a amazing cardinal of actual aciculate blades to cut and barber wood, not to acknowledgment cutting stones to accumulate them honed.
The architecture itself, an accessible steel-frame anatomy that, amid things, has beaming calefaction in the flooring, is additionally for bargain forth with two wood-frame warehouses adjacent on the company’s 15 acreage of land.
And again there’s furniture. About 100 pieces of furniture, including Windsor chairs, tables, bookcases, a kitchen island and kitchen cabinets, are actuality awash in a timed online bargain catastrophe Saturday.
After the bargain is finished, Dimes isn’t abiding what he’s activity to do. “This is alone job I’ve anytime had,” he noted. “I accept to accomplish a resume. I’ve never fabricated a resume.”
But he says he’ll be appreciative of the assignment the aggregation did for bisected a century.
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“There was an amazing bulk of institutional anamnesis in this place,” he said. “It was clashing annihilation else.”
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