Mersman's Eighties Scrapbook - Fourteen Years of Innovation and Recognition - 1977-1990

Site Contributions from Rebecca Karol and Molly Newland

Most Mersman scrapbook clippings have the masthead and date visible

In the case where no year is shown, the likely source is from the 1980-1989 time period

Mersman Sportables - An Example of Mersman's Clever Innovation

from FURNITURE/TODAY, April 13, 1986

Well-focused programs garner strong share of buyer attention.

By Henry Howard and Charles J. L. McKee

AT THE MARKET - It's baseball season. You're watching a game in your family room. An inning has just ended; there's a commercial on the screen. Go get a cold one and perch it at your elbow, right between first and second base.

Or football season. Pat Summeral and John Madden are warming up in the booth. You're getting settled into the sofa. Now, put your feet up on the playing field, between the 20 and 40 yard lines.

Or, you've invited some folks over to watch NCAA basketball. Let's see. We'll put the chips above the basket at this end of the court, the onion dip at center court, and the roasted peanuts over this basket.

The onion dip at center court? What's going on here?

It's furniture for the true sports fanatic.

Mersman/Wa1dron has created a line of coffee tables (there's one end table) devoted to major sports. The Sportables as they're called have had market goers stopping in their tracks outside the company's Southern Furniture Market Center showroom. Created by designer David Space, the line includes a table for almost everyone, even those who favor a less rigorous activity like chess. "The comment we've heard most often is 'Where's the tennis?' Space said. "We're working on that one right now."

For duffers there's a table complete with a green, cup and flag and a golfer putting toward the hole. The glass top rests on four golf balls perched atop giant tees.

Bowlers will find their table, too. Four pins support the top, and the base is an alley complete with spotting marks and a cradle in which the bowler can mount his own bowling ball.

There are tables for hockey, baseball, foot ball and basketball. There's even one for gamblers: four giant dice under a round glass top.

Company President Will Somers said the collection includes coordinated end tables in ivory, natural wood or black and coordinated trophy cases. He said Sportables prices range from $199 to $399 retail.

The Toledo Blade July 4, 1988 Article linked table making and surfing.

By Sally Vallongo - Blade Staff Writer

... When all the pieces are glued, pegged, and screwed into place, and the veneers applied, the new tables move to the top floor for finishing. There they are sanded, dusted, stained, rubbed, varnished, and rubbed some more. From rough board to finished table, the process now takes about 12 weeks, much of that used in seasoning the wood.
  "We use a lot of Ohio materials," Mr. Somers points out. In addition to the wood harvested from the eastern part of the state, Ohio glass and paper packing products are used. Mr. Somers also has tapped Ohio industry for technical assistance in what is the most revolutionary change to move into this century-old industry. It is a change that should help Mersman continue to prosper in the competitive furniture market by producing individual orders in smaller numbers.

The company is attempting a $10 million overhaul of portions of the production line that Mr. Somers hopes will go on-line in less than two years. "We want to automate the plant. We'll use computer-controlled machines," the president says. "No one in the woodworking business is doing this.Our new plan won't affect the finishing, but it will affect the fabricating. We don't want to be able to make more of larger amounts. We want to make smaller amounts. We want to have a focus factory," the president says. He wants to cut production time to 6 weeks.

Study trips have taken Mr. Somers and his planning staff to the Whirlpool plant in Clyde; the Ohio Art Co. in Bryan, and to the Honda plant in Marysville. "Honda can build a car seat in three hours. Can Mersman Waldron build a chair that quickly?" Mr. Somers asks.
  Although sales have doubled since he took over the company, the president notes, "In Celina, we have a lot of work to do if we're going to continue growth in Ohio. Our employment is down, but we hope to bring it back." He has asked the state for financial assistance in executing the plans.

Mersman's products today are still aimed right at the middle of the furniture market. The current lines include traditional, contemporary, country, oriental, and transitional styles in a wide range of upholstery fabrics and finishes. Mr. Somers works closely with his designers to steer the lines.   "I do have a sense of design, probably partly innate, partly training. You learn to look at something in sketch form and know what it will look like when it's made up," he says. He is proud of the way his seating and tables work together - the way an end table meets sofa at just the right height to support an elbow, for example. User studies have led Mersman to make its sofas slightly higher to suit men, who most often choose them, and side chairs slightly lower to accommodate women. "We want it to be easy to live with. We try to realize someone's expectations. We plan the furniture to be responsive to those expectations."  "You try to build a system to give people building blocks to use in creating their homes. We believe furniture should not look as if it was all purchased at the same time."

MERSMAN WALDRON is taking advantage of the newest ideas in marketing as well as manufacturing. The gallery system of displaying furniture by one maker in a room-like setting is being supplanted by smaller focus stores that offer the company's entire line of home furnishings. Called Comfortables, the Living Room Store, they are going into regional malls to fill the gap created by vanishing department store furniture departments.  And the ultimate arrangement, computerized ordering that will lead to rapid production of exactly what the customer has ordered, is not that far away, Mr. Somers believes. "We've come a long way," he says with obvious pride.

Moving quickly through the huge plant, his horn-rimmed spectacles slipping down his nose, the energetic president is all business, mixed with quick greetings - always by first name of every employee he meets.  But mention his old love - surfing - and a change occurs..  Off come the glasses, the posture relaxes, and it's not hard to picture this pin-striped executive back in his baggies, hanging 10 on a board, cruising down a breaker for a long ride. That vision is not far from the truth, it turns out. Mr. Somers hasn't abandoned his first love.

His home and family are in Rumson, N.J., not far from the waves. "I still surf. I still compete," he says, his eyes lighting up, his tan seeming to darken. "Last year I came in 5th in the eastern division in my age group. "

Mersman Design Innovation as well; Classically Influenced Products with a Fresh Flair, in both Wood and Upholstery.

A good example of Mersman's design innovation was our Whitehall Collection, introduced in 1986. Whitehall shows the classic influence of early Greece and Rome, the Golden Age of art, architecture and culture. Such designs were revived in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, launching the neo-classic style with its graceful symmetry, and have become a mainstay in traditionally styled furniture. Furniture in our 290 Whitehall series is made with a four-way matched cherry veneer top and olive ash burl border, enhanced by a 34-step, hand-rubbed finish.  And yet by combining with fresh fabrics, sleek comfortable upholstered sleep sofas, and a unique "guest rooms to go" design concept, a classic becomes fresh and modern.