Good things take time—just ask Brian Preston, a former home builder and founder of Lamon Luther. Named for his grandfather Lamon Luther, Preston’s handcrafted furniture company not only uses reclaimed wood, but also redeems the lives of his employees.
“When we started our company 6 years ago, I thought we would just be creating transitional employment for a few homeless guys,” he says. “Today, most of our employees have been with us for over 4 years now, and they are rebuilding their lives right before our eyes. It’s more than a company; it’s a family.” There is a tear-jerking video online of a TEDxAtlanta presentation that Preston gave in 2012 where he shares the story of how he launched his missional-focused business after experimenting with Pinterest projects for his wife. Since then, Lamon Luther’s chic, reclaimed-wood homewares have spread like wildfire.
In three words, how would you describe your work?
Reclaiming. Meaningful. Redemptive.
How has the original mission of Lamon Luther endured, and how has it evolved?
We have had many challenges along the way. Running a start-up business is hard enough, but running a missional-focused business is nearly impossible. The true success comes from our great vendors, partners, employees, and customers. We learned early on that our products had to continue to get better if we were going to sustain. We also partner with great organizations like No Longer Bound, and the Blake House to scale our workforce. These programs offer great rehabilitation services. Lamon Luther is an extension to the great work these programs are doing by providing meaningful work for guys rebuilding their life.
Do you source the reclaimed wood used for projects?
Early on we were actually reclaiming old structures, like barns, turn-of-the-century houses and historic mills. Hwever, today we buy all of our materials from lumber brokers. This allows us to stay in the factory and focus on transforming reclaimed material into something beautiful.
How did Lamon Luther’s collaboration with Mercedes-Benz Stadium come to be?
We had a small pop-up shop at Arbor Place Mall in 2014 during the holiday season that my wife created. One of the principals from tvsdesign lives in Douglasville, Georgia, and saw our products on display at our store. tvsdesign was hired to furnish the new stadium around the same time. A few months had passed, and the tvsdesign team was having lunch at Krog Street Market. [Lamon Luther] built and branded all of the communal tables for Krog Street. During the meeting, one of the principals shared our story with the Falcons and the rest is history. We built over 220 tables for the stadium and it allowed us to add five people to our team.
What are some other places in Atlanta—or beyond—where people might find themselves sitting at Lamon Luther tables?
Of all the projects your company has had a hand in, do you have a personal favorite?
Mercedes-Benz Stadium was probably my favorite. To see our employees take such pride in creating a piece of furniture that 100s of thousands of people will be having a meal, a beer and, most importantly, a great time at is very rewarding. Our employees had to overcome some challenges during this project, and seeing them come together to achieve a goal was fantastic.
What are you most proud of?
I'm most proud of the life change in our employees. This year alone three of our guys have bought a house. Some have gotten married and started families.
What is on the horizon for Lamon Luther in 2018?
We are doing some fun projects for great companies, but I'm most excited to be launching our own dining collection online. We just launched a brand new website and would love the opportunity to build the perfect table for you. We are also launching a new office collection on Amazon.
Who do you admire most for the impact they are making in Atlanta?
There are so many great people doing amazing things. Jeff Shinabarger with Plywood People, Bruce Deel of City of Refuge and Arthur Blank. I'm really excited about what is happening in our city. So many great companies, brands and restaurants are choosing Atlanta as home.