July 29, 2012 marked the closing day for entries for “A Gentleman’s Call: In Pursuit of an Idea that Matters.” Corbin Clay probably didn’t realize that July 29, 2012 would also mark the first day of the rest of his career.
Ketel One and GQ created the contest in search of an idea. And not just any idea, an idea worth $100,000. Entrepreneurial men across the country entered and the competition was narrowed down to five men with ideas that stood out among the rest and then it was up to the consumers. The votes were tallied and Azure Furniture received the recognition and funding that most small, independently-owned companies only dream of.
We caught up with Corbin to find out more about Azure Furniture, how this whirlwind is effecting him, and, obviously, what he plans to do with all that money?
Give us a little background about Azure Furniture.I moved to Colorado five years ago. I was watching a concert filmed in Boulder while I was living in Florida and thought it was time for a change, so I packed up and moved to the mountains. I got a job with a kitchen and bath company and found out about beetle kill through a couple clients. Three years ago it was the right time to move on. I was able to identify a void in the market and was upset with the beetle kill situation — no prevention and nothing to do with the dead trees. So, I came up with a creative solution.
So, how do you harvest the trees?I work with local loggers and mills. Most of the tress come off private land in Summit and Grand Counties. Theses trees are closer to Denver, more accessible and more robust, older, bigger trees. After the trees are taken to the mill they are cut down to useable dimensions and brought down to Denver. The design process starts after the wood has been given time to acclimate to the drop in altitude.
How did you hear about 'A Gentleman's Call'?I came across the contest through a banner ad on GQ’s website and entered through Facebook. The initial appeal was the grant, but what was great is that throughout the process, before I was a finalist, I got to know a lot about the Ketel One brand. It isn’t just $100,000 for an idea. They have an active interest in craft, craftsmanship and quality work. This is the beginning of a partnership.
What are your plans for the winnings?Grow. As quickly as we can while still being sustainable. We are currently putting together an advisory board to validate my decisions and develop specific strategies. We are identifying the best way to use the resources and go full stream ahead. Azure Furniture has experienced small, incremental growth over past few years and this validation is so humbling and exciting. It is important to me to keep up the enthusiasm, while maintaining our commitment to Colorado and American manufacturing.