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Current Feature Story October 19, 2017

  • Veterans Day is a time each year that Americans formally honor those who have served the country in uniform. One group too often overlooked are prisoners of war (POW) and missing in action (MIA). Rolling Thunder, a national motorcycle group, has teamed up with Hussey Seating, a manufacturer in Maine, to dedicate permanently unoccupied seats in honor of POWs and MIAs. These seats can now be found at places such as TD Bank Garden in Boston and the Glass Bowl football stadium at the University of Toledo.

    Hussey Seating is a remarkable business in its own right. Based in Maine, the company was founded in 1835 and is still family-owned today. The company develops and manufactures seating solutions for the sports, entertainment, and education markets, and produces everything from deluxe upholstered seating to telescopic seating (bleachers). A network of authorized and trained distributors can install and service the seating.

    There is a good chance you may have taken in a sports, arts, or civic event while sitting in one of their chairs. If you have ever watched LeBron James play at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, you have sat in a Hussey seat. They can be found at the Dallas Convention Center, the United Center in Chicago, WaMu Theater in Seattle, Westminster Abbey in London, the Hong Kong Exhibition Center, and literally hundreds of other venues, from high school gyms to performing arts centers abroad.

    When William Hussey founded the business in North Berwick Maine more than 175 years ago, plows were the product being made. Through the years, the product line evolved to ladders to fire escapes to and finally to seating. The Depression years were so difficult that the company – already 100 years old at that point – nearly went out of business. Only a relentless level of perseverance allowed the business to survive. Business became stronger in the following decades, as school and stadium construction boomed. In more recent years, global competition has become a reality in the industry, and a challenge the company must meet.

    While the massive stadium and arena projects bring publicity, school and college stadiums and arenas remain the company’s bread-and-butter business. Now in its sixth generation, the business is located on a 55-acre campus and employs 300 people.

    Their operations combine the best of the new and the old. Cutting-edge computer numeric control technology operates side-by-side with heavy machinery built that has been in use for decades. They have been an exporter since the Sixties, shipping products to South America, Europe, Africa, and beyond. Hussey established partner-production relationship in England and China in recent years so as to be cost-competitive and geographically closer to clients in Europe and Asia. Every seating product is designed, manufactured, and tested to ensure the safety of the people who will eventually sit there.

    The most important factor for a family business that wants to survive for the long term, says sixth-generation CEO Tim Hussey, is integrity. If someone knows that a businessperson’s word is their bond, it will go a long way in helping the business grow during the good times and survive during the tougher times. And Hussey Seating is living proof of that maxim.