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Haeger Potteries has been producing classic American ceramics and pottery for over one hundred and thirty years. We spoke with Gene McGahan, Vice President of Merchandising and Marketing, about the company's storied past and wonderful line of ceramic products.
Q: Tell us a little bit about the company and its history.
A: Haeger Potteries is headquartered just 45 minutes northwest of Chicago in Dundee, Illinois. It was originally founded as the Dundee Brickyard by a young German immigrant named David H. Haeger. This was in 1871, the same year as the great Chicago fire. The company first produced the millions of bricks needed to help rebuild the Chicago metropolis after the fire.
Q: But the company quickly began making fine ceramic pottery.
A: That's right. Over the next 130 plus years, under four generations of family leadership, this small town brick maker was to become America?s oldest and largest production pottery company. 2009 marks the 138th year of production in the United States.
Q: Which family member is in charge today?
A: Alexandra Haeger Estes, the great-granddaughter of founder David H. Haeger. She continues the family tradition that was started four generations ago. We are one of the few and the very proud ceramic manufacturers left producing products in the U.S.A.
Q: Many of the workers have been with you for many years as well.
A: Yes. We have a very dedicated team that works at Haeger. What company in today's market has at least 20 plus employees that have been with the company more then 25 years, and have some that have been with the company 40-plus years? We have several artists that have spent their entire 30-plus years working for Haeger. I'm the new guy on the block and I am constantly reminded how many changes the firm has gone through and how the workers here have embraced change to assure the company continues to grow and be a part of American history.
Q: What are some of your classic designs from the past?
A: We continue to produce historic pieces such as the Haeger Potteries Panther, which was originally done in 1940 by Royal Hickman at The Haeger Potteries. This was a signature piece in many a home back them. We're also proud to manufacture some Frank Lloyd Wright ceramics licensed original designs.
Q: What are some of your more recent designs?
A: Well, while Haeger has not forgotten the past, we embrace the future with great new designs from transitional to soft, clean contemporary lines. We offer a large selection of decorative ceramics in great colors to compliment any decor. We have added a large selection of unique glaze techniques like the Gray Cloth and the Red Cloth that you can see on the Bristol lamps.
Q: Most people aren't aware the incredible amount of detail and work that goes into creating pieces like these. Can you describe the process for us?
A: The Gray Cloth and Red Cloth glazes are applied by hand in a series of steps. A hand brushing technique is applied after the glaze is applied giving this unique technique a one-of-a-kind quality. We spend countless hours designing new glazes and techniques that are fashion forward. As a CMG member (Color Marketing Group) I understand the importance of having the best and the most fashion forward colors available for our customers. We take great pride in our quality and selection and hope you enjoy a piece of Haeger today!
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