Urban Industrial Designs makes custom wood pieces for Druthers, pioneers of home dining

Urban Industrial Designs makes custom wood pieces for Druthers, pioneers of home dining

Before buying his first home in 2015, Brian Seitz had never made a piece of furniture. At the time, his dog was his roommate, he had a steady career, and he wasn’t impressed with the selection and quality of the pieces he was shopping from big local retailers.

Instead of eating and sleeping on the floor, he bought saws, collected lumber from a lumber mill, and went to work in his one-car garage. With no woodworking experience and a bit of online inspiration, in time he created what is now Urban Industrial Design, a custom furniture company and lumber supplier in Albany.

“I looked up the kind of furniture I was looking for and found other people making it and selling it on Etsy,” said Seitz. “And I totally thought I could do it myself.”

Seitz was right. He quickly picked up the skills, building wine racks, entertaining booths and a coffee table for his new place. When he showed off his work on social media, he got requests from friends and family to build something similar for them.

“I was already really enjoying whatever I was doing, but then I clicked that this could become my own business,” Seitz said.

Shortly after this realization, Seitz was laid off from his senior position at a solar energy company and decided it was time to pursue his new passion full time. He spent another six months in his garage, getting a table or two a month, then upgraded his space from about 200 square feet to 1,200 square feet through April 2018, allowing him to take on more projects and expand the business.

From there, Seitz’s custom furniture business continued to thrive by word of mouth. He has attracted a number of residential clients – a mainstay of the business that remains today – as well as commercial clients looking for custom woodwork for bars, restaurants or office space. Seitz built his resume with custom projects at Druthers Brewing in Schenectady and a cantina in Saratoga Springs.

He also upgraded his workshop again—to a 5,000-square-foot professional shop, their current location (though not for much longer)—away from his first garage.

Seitz said, which is also attracting new customers from Instagram page that has amassed more than 15,000 followers. “What we offer is a truly customized and collaborative experience where homeowners can work with us to execute their vision.”

One of UID’s primary offerings is the creation of custom residential dining room tables as well as custom corporate meeting tables. Seitz says both pieces of furniture are conversation starters, and many of his clients enjoy being part of the process. Seitz likes to ask up front how much involvement they’d like to have — from helping select materials to receiving project updates along the way.

“It’s an oddly satisfying process to watch,” Seitz said, attributing the visual part of the process to his loyal and growing social media following. “Some people like to watch these planks become flat and straight, and to see them go through the machines and come together to create the tables.”

Dining tables start at an entry-level cost of $1,950 and can run as high as $10,000 based on size and scale, Seitz says. Production averages six to eight weeks, with white glove delivery service offered for the finished product. Meeting room tables start around $3,500, while custom business projects can run up to $100,000 if the client’s vision and budget allows.

When Bryan Gonyeau of Guilderland was looking for a custom dining room table, he had a hard time finding one that fit the size he needed. Through a friend, he reached out to Seitz and soon began making what he calls a “forever piece of furniture” for his home.

“The shop can do anything you want, and they were very open during the design process,” said Gonyeau, who chose a black walnut table with black resin molding in the middle. “We were looking for something different and haven’t spent on anything big for our home yet. It’s functional but also a piece of art.”

As Seitz’s ventures continue to expand, so do his team and his business offerings. It currently employs nine full and part time employees. In the new year, UID will move again, into a 10,000-square-foot building outfitted exactly to Seitz’s liking and fitting the many functions of the operation, from milling and drying lumber to making tables and meeting on-site with clients.

“I bought a plot of land and built a new building designed to house us as a sole tenant,” said Seitz. “It made financial sense and would allow us to operate and grow under one roof.”

Part of the space, slated to open in Schenectady in early January, includes a dedicated retail showroom, where customers can browse furniture pieces for inspiration or purchase DIY items from hardwood panels to epoxy finishes. Seitz’s short-term plans also include launching a furniture line with an inventory of coffee tables and side tables, as well as dining tables and conference tables.

“It takes time to make it to order every time, and introducing a small furniture line will make it easier to streamline the building process and add new customers.”

While his woodworking skill-set reached a level of perfection with years of practice and experience, Seitz developed an interest in sharing his self-taught knowledge with others. On UID’s website, people can buy tickets for a number of different categories where they can learn alongside it to create their own custom piece of furniture.

“We plan to do quite a few of these classes in the new building,” said Seitz. “Now that we have the space to do that, we want to get people involved and allow me to share what I’ve learned. I’ve found so much joy in teaching others.”

Seitz didn’t quite know what he was building when he first got down to business with his one-car garage in 2015. What started as a personal desire for unique, high-quality furnishings for his home has turned into not only a lifelong skill, but a business fulfillment.

“I used to tag all of my products and started with 50 tags, labeled UID 01, 02, 03…and it took me a while to go through the first set of tags,” said Seitz. “But I still have my wine rack, Tag 001, in my basement today.”

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