Bill Huston’s Retirement 2024

This past February, Huston & Company celebrated a major threshold moment: shop creator and founder Bill Huston announced and celebrated his retirement. A shop built on integrity, master level craftsmanship, and community was just a dream 35 years ago. In those 35 years Bill brought his vision and dream into reality. A physical shop created (first in Poland, then in Kennebunk), a team created, 3697 furniture hand drawings completed by Bill himself, and many heirloom pieces crafted and delivered. It has been a beautiful journey of following the passion of a craft into building a business that upholds tradition and integrity.  

During Bill’s celebration, he shared words in reflection. He humbly shares his reflections here for all to read.  

​​Speech written by Bill Huston on 2/16/24

I want to thank you all for joining us tonight in celebrating my 35 years with Huston & Company and the passing of the torch to my son, Saer. In so many ways all of your help and contributions have made it possible for Huston & Company to survive in the early stages and then to slowly grow over the years to this wonderful spot we are in now.  My world of woodworking started in the country of Norway in 1971–53 years ago! Two years at an incredible woodworking school gave me a focus and direction that literally changed my life. Back in the US I connected with Tom and Mary Moser in 1976. They had started Thos. Moser Furniture in 1972 and had a small shop in New Gloucester, Maine. I worked with Tom and Mary for 12 years, learning lots of furniture making skills, but most significantly I learned from them that you had to embrace the marketing side if you were going to survive and grow a business.

Over those 12 years I worked with a number of talented wood workers, several of whom are here tonight, which I value so much that they made the effort to come to this celebration–Bruce Phillips, David Rogers, and Lynette Breton.

In 1988 I started Huston and Co in Poland Spring, ME. Originally a one-man shop building furniture and outdoor structures. The first few years were a struggle, but then became busy enough to hire part-time help, and soon several full-time employees. My sister, Jill Bock, was a huge part in the business’ early and later years, developing all of our graphic designs, catalogs, print advertising, and our iconic Huston & Company logo. Her graphics presented our tiny little company to the world as solid, professional, and established.

Jill’s contributions over the years have been huge—thanks Sis!

Huston & Company draws 400 to opening

In 1995 Mia and I decided to move to Kennebunk and found this farm land here on Log Cabin Road. My architect friend, Ben Jacks, developed the building design, based on the NE traditional “house connected to a barn” aesthetic. This concept integrated the showroom and workshop into this rural environment. My good friend John Einsiedler, also an architect, helped design several additions we’ve added over the years. Today our shop still looks and feels like it belongs here. 

From the very beginning my focus was on designing and building the very best furniture possible, getting great satisfaction from working with my hands to create beautiful pieces for people’s homes, and later for libraries and schools, too. Over time I came to feel and understand that for me, the most valuable and rewarding accomplishment was the development of lifelong relationships–with craftsman in the shop, with business partners, and especially with dedicated customers and designers who have kept coming back to have us create more furniture for them, because they appreciate our quality and attention to detail, and also our focus on strong personal connection and communication. I want to call out those who are here in the shop everyday, creating all of this beautiful furniture. Josh has been with us 13 years and can create beauty out of the most challenging projects. Tom is rock solid in his skills and continues to take on more and more difficult pieces.

Sonny, Mark, Matt, and Myles have been incredible to watch as they have built up their skills and stepped up to new levels of craftsmanship. Jason, our finisher for more than 20 years, continues to amaze me both with his incredible skills and his determined, focused work ethic. I am grateful for his loyalty. Brenda, our front office person, is often the first connection when potential customers and designers reach out to Huston & Company. She is the queen of engaging with customers, and is adamant to respond to inquiries and detail questions within 24 hours. Her attention to all of the details has been huge and has taken a big load off of me and Saer.  And Tina has given Brenda support in ways that gives her a breath of fresh air!

Mia has been my solid support throughout these 35 years. She always had her own successful career in healthcare marketing, but was there for Huston & Company when I needed her–from working in the office in the early years, to traveling to trade shows with me in the 90’s, to giving me loving support through the business’ ups and downs over the years. Mia came up with the idea for tonight’s celebration several months ago and has been planning and organizing ever since. Mia, I couldn’t have done it without you—and now I can’t wait for us to have more time together for travel and adventures.

And now I want share what a special life it has been sharing the business with Saer for the past 20 years. After doing sculpture and painting in college, and traveling the world as a young 20 year old, he came to me and said he’d like to give woodworking a try. I said that would be great, but that he would need to give some level of commitment. He responded–quote, & I quote–“I can commit to 6 months.” I held back from laughing and welcomed him in. I was thrilled at the opportunity to share with him what I had loved for so long. Saer very rapidly learned and expanded his skills, taking on increasingly more challenging projects. His hard, determined work ethic was very special to see and made me a proud father. We had opportunities to travel up and down the East Coast together, setting up large projects on college campuses, exhibiting at trade shows, and meeting new customers to discuss furniture for their new homes. We have shared a very special relationship, literally not having an argument in the 20 years we’ve worked together. We have an interwoven knowledge of the craft and design of furniture, with one of us starting a sentence and the other finishing it, with both knowing exactly what we each are saying and feeling.

Congratulations article on Huston & Company 20th Anniversary

It has been a joy to watch his design skills evolve in the last 10 years, and to feel Huston & Company’s new designs slowly evolve from my rectilinear aesthetic to Saer’s more curved and organic forms. He continues to win numerous design awards, making me so proud. I am passing the torch to Saer, and to his family as well. Genell is his support in so many ways and is now helping create Huston & and Company’s online newsletters and social media. And our 2 grandsons, Keller and Riley, who you can see in the slide show have been developing their woodworking skills from a VERY early age. Could there be a third generation of Huston & Company???

So now Huston & Company is Saer’s to lead, and to evolve in ways that he will discover and develop as he goes down HIS road. Congratulations Saer!

~ Bill Huston, Huston & Company, Founder