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Furniture History Deep Dive - Kroehler Manufacturing Co.
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Furniture History Deep Dive - Kroehler Manufacturing Co.

If you follow along with us on social media, you know we like a good furniture history deep dive!  Jeff likes to learn about the processes of the manufacturers of the mid century modern furniture that we sell and I like to know about the people, the places and where the companies are now.

So let's get into our first deep dive post:

Kroehler Manufacturing Co. - "World's Largest Furniture Maker"

Today, we listed a Kroehler Galaxy sofa in the shop.  The label makes the boast "Kroehler world's largest furniture maker".  This claim appears on most of the Kroehler labels that I have seen.  Was Kroehler really the world's largest furniture maker, and if so during what time period?  Where is Kroehler now?

Kroehler Chair - Currently Available!

Kroehler Tag

As with all great deep dives for information, my search started with Google.  I found sites that looked like they were created in the 90s, as I often do when I try to research furniture history, but also some resources from newspapers, pinterest and encyclopedias.

Company Background

Kroehler Manufacturing Co. was founded by Peter E. Kroehler in Naperville, IL.  Peter E. Kroehler was an important figure in Naperville history, as his company was the largest employer in the town.  After working his way up to becoming a partner in Naperville Lounge Co., he later purchased it in 1902.  Naperville Lounge Co.  made wooden lounge chairs and upholstered furniture.  Eventually, in 1915, the company merged to combine four factories, which became "Kroehler Manufacturing Company".

Peter Kroehler

Peter Kroehler - Photo Credit American Furniture History Hall of Fame

By the 1940s, through expansion and acquisition of other companies, the company had over $20 million in annual sales and was the second largest furniture maker in the U.S. The hey-day of the company seemed to be in the 60s (which is when our sofa was made) when annual revenues reached $200 million and the company had 14 factories which employed thousands of workers in the U.S. and Canada. This is the period of time when it was the world's largest furniture maker.

According to an article about the company in the Daily Star, during the company's peak, "Kroehler was delivering 128 truckloads of furniture a day to stores primarily in the Midwestern and Northeastern states".  This explains why Kroehler furniture can be found in homes in the Midwest, to this day.

Decline to Present Day

Apparently, the company operated at a loss due to smaller profit margins in the 1970s and gradually began to suffer.  The Kroehler family sold the business and rights to the Kroehler name in 1981.  The company was mostly defunct by 2001.

Of particular interest to me in this story is all of the people that were employed by the factories for this company.  Imagine how important Kroehler was to Naperville, IL - a western suburb of Chicago, and the thousands of people employed throughout the country and even in Canada! I read an excerpt of the 1951 company newsletter and it contained a listing of their Long Service Awards with employees that had worked for the company up to 40 years at that time!

Update

Over a year later we have sourced more Kroehler pieces!  Including pieces from a time capsule home where the pieces were in immaculate condition!  Check out this original ad from 1959 - we are listing a dining set from this same Smartset line that looks as if it was never used or exposed to sunlight!

Kroehler Smartset Ad

Dining set coming Thursday, 6/22 at 10 am central

Past Sold Kroehler

Sold Kroehler Smartset Lowboy

If you happen to read this post and know of someone who worked for the company or have further information to share, we would love to hear about it in the comments section!

6 comments on Furniture History Deep Dive - Kroehler Manufacturing Co.

  • Elise - A Little More Like Home
    Elise - A Little More Like HomeJuly 04, 2024

    Thank you for all the comments about working for Kroehler!

    If you are looking for a valuation of an item – we do offer this service:
    https://alittlemorelikehome.shop/products/expert-appraisal-services?pos=1&_sid=ba1be3788&ss=r

    If you are looking to sell an item, please see this page:
    https://alittlemorelikehome.shop/pages/contact-us

  • Jeanne Schultz Angel
    Jeanne Schultz AngelJuly 04, 2024

    Naperville’s museum- Naper Settlement- will be opening a Kroehler exhibition in April 2025- well worth the trip for Kroehler (pronounced cray-lor) fans!

  • Vicki Duchene
    Vicki DucheneJuly 04, 2024

    I worked at the Bradley, IL and Naperville Corporate office sites in 1970s, just 19 years old. They employed many people from the local small towns. My Uncle and cousins worked the in the 60s and 70s..Seems like everyone from Bradley worked there some time in their life. I had a Kroehler sofa and two chairs that I purchased in 1976, sold them in great condition in 2012, amazing that I had those pieces so long.

  • Karen
    KarenJuly 04, 2024

    We bought a Kroehler mid century modern dresser today at the Salvation Army for $10! We had no idea of the history but just loved the look :)

  • Kari Olson
    Kari Olson February 03, 2024

    Hello! Are you interstate in obtaining more pieces? I have a Kroehler sofa that still has the manufacturer tag under the cushion and the warranty envelope still intact. I can send you pictures. I am in Minnesota. It is a wonderful piece! The quality of the construction is amazing. I have read the history of the Krohler company….very interesting!
    Kari Olson

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