LYNDON - It's not every day that Governor Peter Shumlin asks you for a custom piece of furniture, but that's exactly what happened to Dave Allard, the owner of Lyndon Furniture.
"Actually, I just got an e-mail from him wanting a piece of our furniture, and that's how it all happened," Allard said. "I just couldn't believe it. I was like, yeah, we'll build you a piece of furniture. He's paying for it, just like anybody else."
During the governor's visit to the factory on Monday, he expressed how Vermonters were some of the most dedicated and hard-working people in the country. Lyndon Furniture's workforce fits that claim perfectly..
"I try to teach them that labor is expensive, and it takes all of us working together to make this happen," Allard said. "Because they work hard, they get profit sharing and extra pay. They know that they have to get back going if they are going to make their profit sharing check for the month."
Allard, the portrait of modesty, often seeks to downplay his accomplishments. He's a family man who built Lyndon Furniture from a small operation to one that employs over eighty people. His employees, by and large, credit him as one of the biggest influences in their lives.
"It's changed my life," said Shawn Straffin, one of those employees, "and [it's] changed the lives of so many people, bringing us from a moderately educated area to the point where we are fully functioning business people. That is a quantum leap from anything I could have expected otherwise."
Straffin works in product development. Allard described him as a kid who sat in the waiting room for four hours just to get an interview. He's been with the company for nearly a decade; in that time, Allard has paid to have him trained in marketing, architecture and photography.
Straffin's growth is representative of the company as a whole. Allard prefers to focus on the day-to-day business, allowing things to grow little by little. So far, it's worked. The company has grown to the point that even the governor is paying attention.