Bernhardt

ohn Bernhardt saw and acted upon the opportunities around him. First, he started his own sawmill and began buying timber. Then in 1889 he organized a company to manufacture furniture out of the native white oak. Bernhardt’s vision ultimately led him to connect with distributors and merchants in large cities such as Chicago and New York City in order to supply sturdy oak bedroom furniture to people who lived as far away as the Rocky Mountains. This eager North Carolina entrepreneur began making an impression on the urban businessmen who would ultimately come to know his reliability and integrity.

Bernhardt’s grasp of possibilities outside his locality and his willingness to work hard enabled his young company to survive and grow. As Bernhardt’s fledgling enterprise built facilities and honed the skills of its craftsmen, the company earned a reputation for making high-quality furniture that was both durable and beautiful. Known for intricate oak-grain finishes, Bernhardt sold thousands of sturdy chests and tables costing less than $4 each. Cabinets and cases were stacked like bricks and loaded into freight cars for transport to cities across America.