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January 19, 2009

More on Halcon sale in Stewartville

Here's some from my piece on Stewartville's favorite high-end office furniture maker, following up the recent re-acquistion by its CEO and founder.

Every year a Stewartville company rolls out lines of high-end designs to try to attract fickle, changing tastes.
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So what’s hot this year? 

Quartered walnut.

It is high quality office furniture at the lop level of that industry that Halcon Corp. ships out across the U.S. and internationally each year

While talk of new lines with eye-catching designs sounds like models in dresses on runways instead of wood desks and cabinets, Halcon managers say that is a pretty close comparison

“Furniture really is a lot like the fashion industry,” says Peter Fuchsel, vice president of operations for Halcon, as he stands by huge rolls of sandpaper and stacks of dark and light wood.

While the 150 employee company will roll out its latest designs as usual in June, one change this year is a return to the company’s roots.

Founder and CEO Peter Conway bought Halcon back in December. Conway launched the company in 1977 and then sold it to large international furniture maker Teknion in 1999. Conway stayed on as CEO. As Teknion moved from being a public company to a private one, Conway started thinking about re-acquiring the company he started.
Now that he has control of a “multi-million company” during a recession, does Conway have any regrets?

“”No regrets,” he says with a chuckle. “I knew what I was getting into.”

He has hopes that “with some breaks,” Halcon could start out 2009 strong.

However, “We anticipate this year will not be one of our most robust. I’m looking long-term,” he said.

While he values Halcon’s 150 employees, many who have worked there for many years, it was one employee that influenced his decision to buy the company back.

His son, Ben Conway, is an executive vice president. After a stint with the company in college, the younger Conway returned to Stewartville to raise a family and become a part of the family company.

“Ben was a significant factor,” acknowledges Peter.  
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The Conways value the concept of a family-run business. Anthony and Phillip Conway, two of Peter’s brothers, founded and run Rochester Medical. Also based in Stewartville, it is an international manufacturer of catheters. Christopher, another brother, founded his own medical company in the Twin Cities.

Walking around its manufacturing floor, it is obvious that Halcon’s furniture is not the cookie-cutter type found at any office supply store. 

It is made on special contract from hand-picked logs of the highest quality woods available like teak from Africa and beech from Europe. 
“About 90 percent of our pieces have some customization and about 40 percent are totally custom work,” says Ben Conway.

When a desk or cabinet is being made, logs are selected to create the veneer and no bits or pieces from logs will be used. This creates consistency in the look of the piece, he explains.

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Jeff,

You may want to look to see if there is any truth to a huge layoff at Halcon.

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