Hubbardton Forge set to air on Fox Business News
By Bruce Edwards
STAFF WRITER | December 17,2012
Vyto Starinskas / Staff Photo
Lucas Hughes holds a red hot piece of iron at Hubbardton Forge in Castleton on Thursday.
CASTLETON — Walk into any store and just about everything these days from clothing to toys has a “Made in (Some Other Country)” label. Even Levis jeans, a staple of Americana, are made overseas.
But south of Castleton Four Corners off Route 30, Hubbardton Forge stands out as an example of a successful manufacturer turning out high-end American-made lighting products.
The company's reputation caught the attention of Fox Business News. Last week, Fox dispatched a videographer to Hubbardton Forge to shoot a segment for the network's “Manufacturing Marvels” series.
The series focuses on made-in-America companies. Armen Varadian, a videographer with the 617 Production Group in Boston, spent a day shooting the manufacturing process from start to finish. Varadian estimated that he had shot more than 90 minutes of high definition video for a segment that will be no more than two minutes long when it airs.
Over the last couple of years Hubbardton Forge has focused its marketing on educating not only the consumer but also lighting showrooms around the country on the quality of the company's U.S. made handcrafted steel lamps, said Cathy Miglorie, the company's marketing manager,
“We are made in the USA, so we are pricier,” Miglorie said on a tour of the manufacturing floor.
She said Hubbardton Forge is one of only five companies that still manufactures lighting in the United States.
Over the years, Hubbardton Forge has compiled a portfolio of 800 lighting designs, all handcrafted steel for the floor, desk, wall or ceiling.
The designs go from the drawing board to the tooling department to make the steel prototypes that are then molded in an 1,800 degree forge.
David Kitts, director of design, said the company will introduce 80 to 90 new products at the annual lighting trade show next month in Dallas.
Kitts said the design team stays on top of trends with an eye for coming up with designs that are unique and not easily copied by Chinese companies.
Hubbardton Forge sells its products through lighting showrooms around the U.S. and Canada, including the Handmade in Vermont shop in Wallingford, which is the company's largest account.
In addition to its residential consumer sales, the company also has a commercial division that sells through interior design firms and architects.
While the housing market is starting to recover from its deep slump, Miglorie said the commercial division has picked up the slack.
“That division has grown (more than) 50 percent in the last two years,” she said.
She said Hubbardton Forge expects sales this year in the $32 million range, which will surpass last year's total.
With a background in fine arts, along with some practical experience, including some time spent at the Carving Studio in West Rutland, Annie Gorin of Chittenden found her niche on the manufacturing floor of Hubbardton Forge.
“I like the diversity of the product because we're always making something different throughout the day,” said Gorin, who is one of 200 employees.
She said each worker has their own artistic way of forging a specific design.
On the floor there are reminders of some of the manufacturing days gone by. There's an old trip hammer from the former Howe Scale Company and a wood lathe from the 1850s. Step onto the floor and there is the ever present clanging and banging of the forging process.
“Manufacturing Marvels” has an audience of 72 million viewers nationwide. The two-minute profiles spotlight American companies, their products, as well as the companies' processes and customers.
The segment on Hubbardton Forge will air at 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 2, 2013, on The Fox Business Network. The segment is produced by award-winning producers Bob and Jerry May and award-winning director Bryan McCullough. It will be narrated by John Criswell.