Q + A

the voices of michael sagan + dennis mulherin

Intentionally crafted furniture has the power to change an environment for the better. Although few homeowners and apartment dwellers are aware of how a home’s furnishings can affect the energy of their surroundings, Michael Sagan and Dennis Mulherin are reforging the connections residents make with their environments through thoughtfully handcrafted furniture.

Dennis’ woodworking aptitude converged with Michael’s tech-centered background and love for the craft to form Lundy, a Boulder-based furnishings company that focuses on crafting heirloom pieces with intention. We sat down with the duo to discuss their roots, their values and the challenges of launching a brand during a global pandemic.

What’s your story?  

D: I started making furniture in high school, but at that time, no one told me it could be a profession. Eventually, I enrolled in a two-year program where I got to work with some incredible designers. Mike approached me to pick my brain about potentially starting a business while we were still living back east.

M: I had always been interested in furniture making since I was a young kid. Before we started Lundy, I was working in tech as a product manager — but a couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to step away. That’s when I approached Dennis about starting our own furniture company.

D: We realized that we both had a different image of what modern furniture could be. We wanted to venture away from the rustic look that had taken hold while still honing in on the classic aspects of the craft. We wanted to improve, mechanize and romanticize furniture making — to create locally made, but readily available pieces.

M: After deciding to start the business, we chose Boulder not just because it fit in with our lifestyles (Dennis and I met at a climbing gym in Boston) but because the lifestyle was getting so much PR. We wanted to hop on that train.

Lundy’s values are centered around sustainability, quality and craftsmanship. How does that result in an elevated product?

M: Sustainability can be a buzzword, but to us, it means longevity. We buy sustainably sourced lumber and hand-pick every board that becomes a piece of furniture. For us,  it comes down to the highest quality possible. We want these pieces to become heirlooms that can be passed down to your grandkids.

D: We have a better relationship with our customer because we can stand behind what we’re creating and selling. Honest communication results from having a personal connection with each board. If it has our name on it, you can trust that we have been with the board at every step.

To what do you attribute your success?

M: Our success can be attributed to our attention and dedication to the customer. We put a lot of thought into every step so we can craft an experience from the first “hello” all the way through delivery.

D: We also try to connect with our customer on a personal level to find out how they plan on experiencing the pieces. Our designs are coming from the parameters that fill their needs. By crafting furniture around customer needs versus creating a piece for the masses, we reverse engineer the process to create better designs.

What struggles did you encounter at the start of your business and how did you overcome them?

M: We got really lucky. Even though we dealt with the pandemic, people in our community banded together and went out of their way to help us out. Neighbors lent us their tow trucks and equipment — someone even sold us the tools we needed to maximize the use of each piece of lumber.

It’s all about problem solving when you own a business. When we launched last year, everybody was investing in their homes, but we weren’t able to meet with interior designers to establish our name. However, that turned out to be a blessing because we could focus on intentionally developing our product line.

D: We committed to making really great products for our clients by treating every customer like our only customer. Word started to spread that Lundy was a reliable manufacturer of quality products. Our struggles became our successes.

Tell us about the power of a well-crafted piece as it relates to the home and lifestyle.

M: Furniture is the platform on which humans experience their surroundings. When you’re next to a well-crafted piece, you can feel an innate biological connection to it; so, when we market a piece of furniture, we are selling that experience.

D: You become what you interact with most frequently. If you interact with things that are made with intention, it affects you in a way that can change you forever. If you have a piece of furniture that you can depend on, it makes you more dependable. 

On a personal note, in what ways do you manage a work/life balance?

D: You don’t have to incentivize us to work hard — we’re both innately hard workers. Still, we both understand the need for mental health. You can’t just redline yourself until you break down. We look out for each other.

M: Yeah, more often than not, we’re the ones telling each other to take a day off. I learned over the last few years that work/life balance is essential. Plus, easy access to outdoor recreation forces me to stop and pause. However, the lines get blurred when you work with great people and love what you do.

If you could recommend any pivotal books, podcasts, leaders, etc., what would you recommend?

M: The Toyota Way — it’s a book about how Toyota operates differently in the manufacturing process, plus how to build a company and a culture. It really focuses on how to learn from mistakes and doing everything with a degree of intention.

D: I love poetry and literature! Haruki Murakami is the author of my lifetime. I balance it out with comedy podcasts, such as Nateland with Nate Bargatze.