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THE STICKLEY BROTHERS

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Over 120 years ago, in a small workroom in Binghamton, New York, the Stickley brothers started handcrafting simple wooden chairs.  Thus began a tradition of furniture making excellence that spans two families, the Stickleys and the Audis, and remains thriving today.

Stoeckel could have easily been the premier name in American furniture making.  Five brothers—Gustav, Albert, Charles, Leopold and John George inherited that last name from their father, who changed it to Stickley to sound more American.  Some time around 1875, the Stickley brothers' mother, Barbara, moved her family from their home on the Wisconsin/Minnesota border to Pennsylvania, where her brother, Jacob Schlager, gave the brothers their first taste of furniture making.  All went to work in a factory owned by Schlager and his partner, Henry William Bryant, before starting their own companies.

In 1884, Gustav, Albert and Charles moved their one year old Stickley Brothers Furniture Company from Pennsylvania to Binghamton, New York.  Through sixty years of collaboration and competition, these men profoundly affected American furniture.  Gustav's Craftsman motto, ALS IK KAN, which he translated, "to the best of my ability," reflects the brother's legacy of passionate craftsmanship.

Gustav Stickley is now known as one of the leaders of the American Arts & Crafts movement, which hit its peak from 1900 to 1915, producing some of the most influential artisans in American history.

Social reformers such as William Morris and John Ruskin founded the Arts & Crafts movement in Britain during the late nineteenth century.  They proposed that a return to simplicity was needed to protect against the growing inhumanity of the Industrial Revolution.  Inspired by these European social reformers, Gustav Stickley constructed an organic philosophy of simplicity and function, embodied in his revolutionary furniture style.  Furniture was only one component of Gustav's desire to establish beautifully simple living environments for the American home.

His The Craftsman magazine drove the Arts and Crafts movement, advocating a return to authentic, traditional craftsmanship.

At the beginning of the 20th century, brothers Leopold and John George Stickley bought a furniture factory in Fayetteville, New York, and incorporated it as L. & J.G. Stickley. Their first furniture line, handcrafted Mission Oak, presented a new aesthetic: function and unadorned beauty over the ornate extravagance of the Victorian era.  L. & J.G. Stickley and Craftsman Workshops, owned by older brother Gustav, forged a new era in furniture craftsmanship and design.

Leopold Stickley found enduring success by listening to his consumers.  In the 1920s, changing public taste ended the first Mission era, and Leopold responded by inaugurating his Cherry Valley Collection: Colonial American designs made of solid cherry wood.

Stickley furniture was recognized during the following decades for its authentic designs, integrity of construction and incomparable finish. In 1956 Leopold Stickley was honored as "The Revered Dean of Cabinetmakers whose art and craftsmanship have contributed mightily to American home life", by House Beautiful, House & Garden, National Geographic, The New Yorker, and Fortune Magazine, among others.  L. & J.G. Stickley had become one of the best known and most admired furniture companies in the nation.

By the early 1970's, the workforce at Stickley had dwindled to 22 full-time employees, production was limited and the company was on the verge of closing. A new era began for Stickley when Alfred and Aminy Audi bought the company and started nurturing it back to health.

Buying L. & J.G. Stickley was a personal as well as a professional decision. Alfred's father, New York furniture dealer E.J. Audi, had been the largest retailer of Stickley Furniture in the country. The elder Audi enjoyed an enduring friendship with Leopold Stickley that led Alfred to purchase the struggling company.

Alfred and Aminy knew they were taking a risk by purchasing L. & J.G. Stickley. They also knew that with hard work and intelligent decision making, they could turn the company around. The Audis led by example, working endless hours both manufacturing the furniture and selling it to consumers. This commitment was infectious and it helped rebuild the company.

Located in Fayetteville, New York, since the early 1900s, the factory was moved to its present location in nearby Manlius, New York, in 1985. Now, in addition to the historic Mission Collection, the craftsmen and craftswomen of Stickley proudly produce Traditional 18th Century pieces, select pieces from the Williamsburg Reserve Collection, 21st Century, Metropolitan, Stickley Antiquities, Stickley Fine Leather and Stickley Fine Upholstery Collections.

Stickley continued to grow as it began its second century of furniture making.  Manufacturing expanded to North Carolina and Vietnam, complimenting the bustling Manlius headquarters.  Stickley has recently purchased the rights to legendary names in the American furniture world, John Widdicomb (2002) and Nichols & Stone (2008).  With Stickley, their combined 400 years of furniture making is unequalled.

With all that was gained by Stickley in the 21st Century, there was also an enormous loss.  Alfred Audi, the man who revived Stickley, passed away in September, 2007.  He left behind a legacy of uncompromised craftsmanship, dedicated service, and impassioned leadership.

Aminy Audi carries on the legacy of her husband as President and CEO of L. & J.G. Stickley.  She is joined by her son Edward, Executive Vice President of L. & J.G. Stickley, and President of Stickley International, LLC, as well as daughters Carolyn and Andrea.  Today, Stickley is a thriving company with nearly 1600 employees who have a deep appreciation for Stickley's heritage and pride in its product. The outstanding growth of Stickley into an international force assures it a vibrant future, but the craftspeople of Stickley are tempered by a devotion to the humble motto of Stickley's past "Als Ik Kan"—To the best of my ability.

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