Electric Machine and Equipment Company (Emeco) was founded in 1944, in Baltimore, by Witton C. "Bud" Dinges, a Johns Hopkins-educated engineer who wanted to cash in on the booming business of supplying the military with steel and aluminium furniture.

The company moved to Hanover in 1947 because Dinges had heard that there were highly skilled hand labourers in the area. In 1954, the firm moved into the current factory on Elm Street, a glass and stone Modernist building at the base of a sloping green lawn.

Dinges was unquestionably a brilliant engineer. Working with scientists from Alcoa, he devised a process for manufacturing aluminium furniture that far exceeded the Navy's strict specifications.

However, he was not a good businessman and, due to the elaborate manufacturing process, didn't find it easy to squeeze a profit out of Emeco, even during wartime. He also had what could be characterized as an eccentric grasp of marketing. Once, during a furniture show in Chicago, he threw an Emeco chair out of a sixth-floor window to demonstrate its durability. It landed on the sidewalk outside the busy Palmer House Hotel and, except for a few scratches, was in perfect shape.

Geiselman took over after Dinges died and in 1979, eventually sold the struggling company to Jay Buchbinder who tried unsuccessfully to revive the military end of the business.

Geiselman ran the company for the Buchbinders until his retirement in 1984. By then the 1006 had been discovered by hip interior designers. One of the last things Geiselman remembers doing before he retired is taking a call from an editor at Italian Vogue, who wanted four chairs for a shoot in Milan.

Gregg Buchbinder hopes that the Starck collaboration will be the first of many between prominent designers and the company. At its peak military production, the 150,000-square-foot plant employed 300, turning out thousands of 1006 chairs a month for fleets of ships. Today the company employs just 35 workers and completes about 1,000 chairs a month. With that much-unused production capability, Buchbinder has room for his big plans.


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