History

Today, Tomlinson / Erwin – Lambeth is a recognized leader in not only upholstered furniture, but also hand crafted occasional pieces with luxurious finishes. From a Palace for a King to the White House for the President, you can find Tomlinson / Erwin – Lambeth.

Sidney Halstead Tomlinson, Sr. co-founded The Tomlinson Chair Manufacturing Co. with his brother in 1901. He started with 12 employees.

"Four men working with you are worth forty men working for you."
--Mr.S.H.

The story of Tomlinson / Erwin - Lambeth began over one hundred years ago with two different companies only eight miles apart. Both companies were family owned and operated and began within months of each other. The Tomlinson family started the Tomlinson Chair Company in High Point, North Carolina in 1901.

Also in 1901, the Lambeth family started The Standard Chair Company in Thomasville, North Carolina. In 1947, a new plant was built to create furniture specifically for the design trade.

Each company was headed by a strong visionary in its beginning. And each, in their own way, changed the way we think of furniture today.

And they each respected their employees and knew that without their talent, they could not achieve the goals they wanted for their companies.

Katharine Covington Lambeth was the first president and co-founded Erwin-Lambeth with her husband, James Erwin Lambeth.

"Build to a standard, not a price."
-- K.C. Lambeth

Ms. K.C. Lambeth believed in the importance of her employees and considered them part of her extended family. Still working up into her 70’s and referred to as “Mama K” by all who knew her, she wanted each employee to “achieve a sense of contributing to the whole, while still retaining an individual desire to accomplish their own goals”. She knew that it was not only her talent and ability, but also their skills and talents that made her company a standard for all other furniture manufactures to look to.

Sidney Halstead Tomlinson also believed in his employees. He always insured their safety and well being. He spent a lot of money on his factory to provide modern and safe equipment for his employees while other manufacturers operated on a sweatshop mentality. Mr. S.H., as he was called by all his employees, operated a company newspaper and supported sports teams for both men and women in the first half of the 1900’s. There were three service clubs for his employees, the highest of which was the Diamond Club, which was for employees with over 40 years with the company.

Tomlinson was one of the first manufacturers to make matched dining room suites and to develop period adaptations in the 19th Century French, English and American styles. In order to show their product to its best advantage, Tomlinson devised displays in gallery form, starting a marketing trend that is still widely used today.

Katharine Covington Lambeth operated her company from a woman’s point of view. She knew what was missing in a furniture industry dominated by men. She wanted two things that were not available to her as a designer. “Choices” and “Quality”. Her “business plan” was based on two concepts:

“Build to a standard, not a price.”

“Focus on what we can do for our customers rather than what we can sell them”.

Erwin-Lambeth innovated such programs as “Furniture by the Inch”, “As You Like It” and “Form and Fashion”. All were designed to offer “choices”. And always, always, always ...Quality!

Rod Lambeth, the youngest son of Jim and K.C. Lambeth purchased Tomlinson Furniture Company in 1987. Two years later he purchased Erwin-Lambeth and merged the two companies. He combined the talent pool from each company to form a new creation in today’s market place where all too often mass production is always first and quality is not.

Tomlinson / Erwin – Lambeth is a custom house for the manufacturing of upholstered furniture and hand crafted occasional pieces with incredible hand finishes. Mr. Lambeth works under the same philosophical standards set forth by the company’s namesake. The “Diamond” is still used in the logo today to represent the Diamond Club of Service from Tomlinson. It is there to signify, the importance of the employees to Tomlinson. And “Mama K’s” prime directive of “build to a standard, not a price” is still in place.

After years of being in all aspects of the furniture industry, from manufacturing, to design, to retail, Rod Lambeth wanted to accomplish his dream of building the best furniture in the world. So he came up with a plan, and like all truly great plans, it was a simple plan.

Take the best craftsmen, the best material, the best engineering and the best design and create the best furniture for the best customers in the world.

Two hundred years of experience to create one piece of furniture...Yours.