Interview With Gregg Buchbinder, CEO Of Emeco

For 77 years, Emeco’s products have brought a huge impact on the furniture industry. The innovativeness of Gregg Buchbinder as Emeco’s CEO brought the company’s success continuously.

Q1. What made you start your business in the furniture industry?

I was attracted to Emeco because I believe chairs to be a centerpiece of industrial design. They are functional, but offer exploration of alternate materials, manufacturing, and designs.

Q2. What’s the story behind your best furniture design?

I think the best design still stands as our 10-06 Navy chair, originally made in 1944 for the US Navy, to be on Navy ships. Emeco formed under the guise of making torpedo proof, nonmagnetic, lightweight, non-corrosive, and super strong chairs. What emerged was a chair known for the extreme functionality – the 10-06 Navy chair is beautiful because of how useful it is. And of course, made from salvaged aluminum which became the basis for our sustainability compass.

Q3. How were you able to grow Emeco?

We were able to grow Emeco twofold: First, identifying that our customers may not just be government agencies but also the architects and designers that already admired our work. The second, was opening up our R&D to be able to work with a variety of designers to produce new products, using new waste material and methodologies.

Q4. What do you think is the greatest value your company has?

Our greatest value is knowledge of the craft- we have been able to really hone in on functional furniture production, working with the best designers, employing amazing craftspeople, and just learning by trial and error over the years. The accumulated value this has is irreplaceable.

Q5. How do you get design inspiration?

We are inspired by the world we are trying to protect- surfing in the morning inspires us so much to keep the oceans and beaches clean. There’s nothing like seeing dolphins before work to make you feel a strong sense of protection and environmentalism, that inspires our drive to stick with waste materials and continuously improve in the sustainable direction.

Q6. Where do you get your design ideas?

A lot of times we begin with the material. Finding a waste stream that we can work with, or a designer comes to us because they are inspired by a material we’ve worked with. From there we look to analogous industries – automotive, sports, even military to see how they’ve made things.

Q7. What is your vision for Emeco?

Our vision is to prove out the concept of a circular company for the furniture industry. To get to the place where we aren’t producing anything that we don’t take responsibility for on the tail end of its life.

Q8. What was the most challenging part of managing your business?

One thing that has become tough for Emeco is finding and maintaining a workforce of craftspeople. The US workforce just doesn’t have that many young people going into the crafts we look for, and it gets harder every year.

Q9. What sets Emeco apart from its competitors?

Probably for better or worse, the amount of time and energy we put into a product. We try to really make a product super functional and trendless, designed so it feels as though it has been part of Emeco forever. It takes us years to create something that we hope deserves to have a place in a person’s home.

Q10. What are your top 3 marketing strategies in growing Emeco?

To be honest, I’m not sure how strategic our marketing is. We try to communicate our products with clarity and honesty, showing off the craft, and the people behind the project. It’s interesting to show off the factory, the material, and the designers—so we try to make it informative for the customer rather than ascribing to a certain strategy.


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