Changes at Chilton Furniture: New Owners Acquire Iconic Maine Business


Freeport and Scarborough, Maine (November 10, 2014):Jennifer and Jared Levin of Larchmont, New York are the new owners of Chilton Furniture, known for handcrafted, Shaker-inspired cherry wood designs. Sale of the store became final in September. The Levins have retained the existing management team—general manager, Nate Gobeil, who was named a partner, and store managers Lorinda Nelson and Jill Kennedy—as well as eleven longtime Chilton coworkers. The company is also hiring three additional team members to fill newly added positions in sales and customer service.

 

The Levins are enthusiastic about the growth potential at Chilton, noting perennial demand for fine craftsmanship and Shaker style. “We are particularly excited by the opportunity to grow the Internet business,” says Jen Levin. “Out-of-state sales have doubled in recent years to 25 percent of total. We hope to build on that momentum through online and catalog sales, and a greater investment in regional advertising.”

The Levins also see opportunities to add more Maine-made furniture to the inventory, and are working with Chilton’s in-state craftsmen to develop new product lines. “Maine has a deep furniture-making tradition and there are some amazing craftsmen in this state,” says Jen. “We are eager to take advantage of these unique resources and do our part to benefit the Maine economy.”

Additional changes in the works include an interior and exterior refresh of the Freeport and Scarborough showrooms, and a new website. And some things will remain business as usual. Chilton salespeople do not work on commission, and the team voted unanimously to maintain that tradition. “We want customers to browse in a no-pressure environment where experienced sales professionals are only there to help,” says Jen. “That’s not going to change.”

“Everything Just Clicked”

Jen and Jared Levin met at Columbia Law School in 1994 and were married in 1997. Jared works in finance and Jen is a former corporate attorney who retired from practice to raise their three daughters, now four, seven, and ten. With the girls in school, Jen was ready to start a new career as an entrepreneur. On a whim, she searched businesses for sale in Maine; Chilton Furniture was at the top of the list.

The Maine connection was a strong draw for the Levins. Jen is a Bates College graduate and spent childhood summers with her grandparents in Ocean Park, where Jen and Jared continue the tradition with their daughters.

“Chilton met all of our criteria,” says Jen, “a respected brand with national recognition and quality products, made in America. The store has an excellent management team, as well as enthusiastic sales and warehouse staff who are passionately devoted to customers, suppliers, and fine wood craftsmanship. With the Maine connection and the Shaker theme—which really resonates with me—everything just clicked.

“I have an abiding respect for Shaker philosophy and their adherence to utility, quality, and simplicity in design,” says Jen. “The Shaker aesthetic of simple, clean lines has parallels with Japanese design as well as Arts & Crafts, and has informed more modern schools, such as mid-century Scandinavian. We are looking forward to introducing new lines of Shaker, Shaker-inspired, and simply beautiful wood furniture, in which form follows function.”

Chilton’s history and longevity was yet another check in the plus column for the Levins. The Chilton name is as old as New England itself—James Chilton and his family were passengers on the Mayflower. Legend has it that James’ daughter, Mary, was so excited to arrive in the New World, she leapt from the dingy and waded ashore, becoming the first to set foot on Plymouth Rock. Descendants of Mary Chilton formed a corporation in Portland, Maine during the manufacturing boom that followed the Civil War. Chilton Furniture is an outgrowth of that company, and the Levin’s are proud to take the reigns at one of America’s oldest family-owned businesses.

Longtime Chilton owner, Bill Martens, retired with the sale of the company and is serving as a consultant as the Levins transition into their new roles. “The Levins are the perfect couple to carry on and expand the tradition of quality craftsmanship,” he says. “They get it. And I’m looking forward to watching them take the business to new heights.”

About Chilton Furniture:

Chilton traces its Maine manufacturing roots back to 1865. Today the company is known for fine, hand-crafted wood furniture, with an emphasis on Shaker and Shaker-inspired cherry designs. All furniture is made in America, much of it right here in Maine. Chilton’s showrooms are located in Freeport and Scarborough, Maine and products can be viewed online at www.chiltons.com.

Contact: Linda Varrell
Broadreach Public Relations
lindav@broadreachpr.com
207-619-7350