Last week I was having a discussion with a colleague of mine regarding the seating in our ‘black box’ -style Studio Theater. He was assuming that our chairs were relatively new and I found myself having to convince him that they were in fact several years old. I started to explain to him some of the unique features and engineering that go into your chairs. Later that day, curious, I pulled my Bertolini file and discovered that our chairs were delivered over seven years ago and it inspired me to let you know how astoundingly well our Bertolini chairs have performed.
I have served as Technical Director for the Cypress College Theater Department for thirty years and have seen my fair share of chairs come and go. I contacted Bertolini Sanctuary Seating after serving on the design team as a member of CrossPoint Church, also in Chino. It was that project that introduced me to Bertolini’s unmatched quality and I knew your chairs would serve our needs at the college well. Unfortunately my coworkers were not so easily convinced since we were in the process of replacing other church chairs that I had convinced them to buy only a few short years earlier. Those chairs proved to be a complete nightmare with plastic feet constantly falling out of the legs, particle board seats cracking in two, and frames bending hopelessly out of shape. It wasn’t until I borrowed a chair from CrossPoint Church and (using of a sledgehammer) showed them firsthand how superior your chairs are that I was given one more chance to show that a ‘church chair’ could function in our environment.
I remember calling Bertolini and speaking with Carol Brown who seemed genuinely surprised that I was calling representing a non-church entity. We bought all the chairs we knew we needed plus about another 20% so we would have extras to replace any that might fail, a strategy that proved to be completely unnecessary. We had three very tall stacks of chairs still wrapped from the factory in storage for over six years before we finally unwrapped them but only because we had an event that required the use of an unusually large number of chairs. It was then that we noticed that it was nearly impossible to tell which chairs were essentially brand new compared to the chairs that had been in constant service for six years.
The fact is that we have only taken one chair out of service in all these years and that was only because someone had opted to set a hot curling iron on its seat and burned a hole through the fabric. It’s not as if our students haven’t tried to destroy your chairs. I have seen them stacked poorly and tip over many times. They have fallen off the back of our utility cart, occasionally used as an impromptu lumber rack, and of course often used as an unauthorized substitution for a step stool. But our chairs still look great and are as comfortable as always to sit in, even for extended periods of time. I’m not sure if there will ever be a need to replace our Bertolini chairs … certainly not in the foreseeable future. Maybe that is the only flaw of your business plan; that your quality is so good it naturally limits how often your customers might need to replace their chairs.
Our Bertolini chairs have shown up in unexpected places as well. Since they are hands down the best looking and most comfortable chairs on campus, they are routinely requested by our president’s office to provide seating on stage for all sorts of campus events. Each May they appear on the dais during our commencement ceremonies. We even drag a couple dozen or so chairs to the Disneyland Hotel Grand Ballroom each February to provide seating on stage for honorees during on Foundation’s biggest event each year, The Cypress College Americana Awards. We much prefer to handle your chairs over the ballroom’s accent looking and extremely heavy banquet chairs. Some of our Bertolini chairs even make it around my own family’s dining room table for Thanksgiving and Christmas where they have proven to be favored over our normal dining room chairs. Sooner or later each year a guest will end up asking about the chairs and I find myself bragging about how they are built right here in Chino!
I know that you have your Bertolini Hospitality and Design division but I was curious if you had ever considered branching out into the Education and Entertainment fields? Your theater style seating could certainly compete with traditional manufacturers that sell their seats for twice as much. The last 10-15 years our college has been plagued with purchases of poorly designed educational furniture that proves to be much less than robust. I even have an idea or two for task specific products.
You have developed such a great reputation and obviously have a passion for meeting the needs of churches. It would be understandable if you are hesitant, not wanting to lose focus of your primary business. I, for one anyways, would be curious to see how successful a Bertolini (let’s call it) Education and Entertainment Division might be. I believe your innovative engineering, ergonomic design, and superior value could easily be appreciated in these fields. I wish you a good day and thank you again for providing such well-designed and built chairs.