This year marks the 125th anniversary of Bernhardt Furniture. For us, this milestone is not only a time to celebrate, but also a time to reaffirm the values that have enabled the company to endure. Foremost among those values: creating quality furniture… and a deep commitment to people and relationships.
Unique by today’s standards, remains a family-owned business that is dedicated to the welfare of the community that’s been its home since 1889.
The company’s history, spanning those 125 years, is a story of pioneer spirit, of opportunities recognized and realized in spite of obstacles.
John Mathias Bernhardt, founder
America was beginning to take shape in 1860 when the Bernhardt family moved to the western North Carolina town of Lenoir. John Mathias Bernhardt’s rural lifestyle became even more challenging at age 13 when both of his parents died within 60 days of each other. Left to face life as orphans, John and his older brother, Lynn, eventually went to work at a local general store. But unlike his brother, who stayed in the retail trade, John was destined for adventures out west in territory that became the state of Oregon. He secured a job as a government surveyor assisting settlers in the wild frontier, a post that nearly claimed his life. Had it not been for an Indian guide who saved him from a winter bout of pneumonia, J.M . Bernhardt and Bernhardt Furniture Company would not be known to us today.
As it was, he survived this and other frontier ordeals and returned to Lenoir after three years to begin an enterprise that would become one of the country’s leading manufacturers of residential and commercial furniture.
He was a man with imagination and drive. His legacy includes not only a thriving family enterprise, but also a heritage of perseverance and social responsibility.