Growing up in rural Ohio, Rodney Geitgey developed an interest in woodworking at an early age. "The Amish had a large presence [in the area], and I was close to that community," says Geitgey, 34. Eventually, the peerless furniture craftsmanship of the Amish would become a source of inspiration for the soon-to-be entrepreneur.
But in the beginning, woodworking was just a hobby for Geitgey, who had earned a degree in computer science and worked as a programmer. Although he enjoyed the challenges of his job, he didn't really like working for someone else. "I was a little too independent for that," Geitgey explains.
In 1989, when he test-marketed Amish-made crafts on co-workers at a holiday bazaar, the items proved a hit. Geitgey began building relationships with dozens of Amish furniture makers and saving money for his start-up. When he was unexpectedly laid off in 1991, Geitgey took Amish Country Furnishings Co. full time, hired his first employee and began advertising in the local paper.
Geitgey's customers enjoy a quaint blend of old and new. Custom-built by Amish craftspeople from solid walnut, oak or cherry, the executive desks, file cabinets, library tables, credenzas and chairs focus on functionality.
Sales of his Dublin, Ohio, company should exceed $3 million this year. Looking back, Geitgey admits he's pleasantly surprised to find that getting laid off was the best thing that could have happened to him. Says the now-veteran entrepreneur, "It gave me the nudge [to do what] I feared."
Amish Country Furnishings Co., 7600 Fishel Dr. N., Dublin, OH 43016, email@example.com
Los Kitos Entertainment LLC,http://www.loskitos.com