Summer Classics

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Summer Classics is a designer and manufacturer of outdoor furniture headquartered in Pelham. The company was founded by Bew White III in 1978 and supplies its own dealers, as well as Restoration Hardware, Crate & Barrell, Nieman-Marcus and Smith & Hawken with exclusive designs.

The company operates three factories in China and one in Indonesia.

In the 1980s, Summer Classics began to take more control over retailing with "Summer Classics Shops" agreements with dealers who agreed to creating a branded display space. The company also started opening its own showrooms. In addition to its Pelham flagship, Summer Classics showrooms are located in Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Las Vegas, Nevada; and High Point, North Carolina.

Its sister company Winter Classics manufactures fireplace accessories. Its Gabby line of indoor furniture was created in 2011 by Bew White IV ("William") and named for his great-grandmother, Gabriella Comer White.

In 2003 the company forged a licensing agreement with the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina to create a Biltmore Estate line of furnishings.

Summer Classics' 130,000 square foot furniture plant in Columbiana was destroyed by fire on May 22, 2004. A broken sprinkler system was found to have contributed to the fire's spread. The plant housed a sewing operation for patio furniture cushions, the manufacturing center for Winter Classics fireplace accessories, and an unrelated tire warehouse. 55 employees were relocated to the Montevallo facility. Columbiana officials have discussed the possibility of redeveloping the site as a mixed use "town center". An agreement to partner with Shelby County to buy the site was made in November, 2006. Part of the site will be used as an arts center operated by the Shelby County Arts Council.

In 2012 the company announced its intention to consolidate operations at the former Moore-Handley building on Shelby County Highway 52 in Pelham. A new company, Gabriella White LLC, was created as the parent for the indoor and outdoor divisions. William White succeeded his father as president in 2017.

In 2018 the company announced that its Pelham plant was equipped with rooftop photoelectric panels installed by Eagle Solar and Light. Gabriella White anticipates offsetting as much as 70% of its electrical consumption with solar.

References

  • Zganjar, Leslie (July 4, 2003) "Patio appeal: Summer Classics wants to be Ralph Lauren of outdoor furniture." Birmingham Business Journal
  • Ingram, Cinde W. (April 1, 2006) "The Company Store Changing retail boundaries." Casual Living
  • "Investigators Search For Cause Of Columbiana Fire" (May 24, 2004) NBC13 - accessed November 9, 2006
  • Gray, Jeremy (November 9, 2006) "Columbiana OKs purchase of site for fine arts academy." The Birmingham News
  • Kent, Dawn (August 26, 2012) "Outdoor furniture maker Summer Classics looks to move growing operations to Pelham." The Birmingham News
  • "Summer Classics and Gabby Brands Tap William White as President" (February 2, 2017) The Birmingham News
  • Rebman, Stephanie (July 30, 2018) "Birmingham manufacturer makes switch to solar panel energy system." Birmingham Business Journal

External link