Reemerging Furniture Designs
Buckstaff furnishings, made by Moss Designs, Ltd., embody quality and lasting impressions through tradition and experience
Russ Moss always had big entrepreneurial dreams. He just had to be patient. With the support of his wife, Phyllis Moss, when the opportunity appeared, those dreams would become reality. Doing business as Moss Designs, Ltd. for more than 30 years, everything changed in 2012 when the two acquired the intellectual properties of the Buckstaff Company, a mainstay of quality furniture with a 170-year tradition, particularly in the library and restaurant sectors.
Since before the Civil War, the Oshkosh-based Buckstaff Company has been building well-crafted furniture that creates lasting impressions. Even Russ’ grandmother, Helen Moss, worked for Buckstaff for two decades in the 1960s and ‘70s, hand-sanding furniture. Moss Designs, Ltd., the new parent organization, continues that tradition with long-term Buckstaff employees (including Russ) working to Buckstaff specifications. The Moss family legacy continues, too, with Phyllis and Russ’ daughter, Rebecca Moss, who works full time for the company as well.
Established in 1987, Moss Designs, Ltd. is a woman-owned business with a reputation for crafting fine wood furnishings. The current staff includes former Buckstaff craftsmen who combine their skill with the time-honored innovations created by Buckstaff to bring customers in Wisconsin and beyond the quality and dependability synonymous with the Buckstaff name.
A Quality Legacy
Phyllis describes the shift, sharing, “Under the ownership of Moss Designs Ltd., we possess Buckstaff’s original designs and specification standards. Keeping the quality features that make Buckstaff furnishings everlasting is our first priority. We understand the importance of producing durable wood furniture made in America.”
Buckstaff made by Moss Designs, Ltd. combines the old and new, beginning a fresh era with original Buckstaff furniture drawings, specification standards, engineered parts, patents and trademarks, as well as the veteran company’s operational manufacturing equipment, wood supplier, aged kiln-dried wood species and finishing processes. In fact, Moss Designs purchased the Buckstaff wood staining and varnishing equipment to provide perfect matches to the existing furniture that has graced so many facilities over the years.
Phyllis says, “Even though the market share of buyers who value this level of high-end product is smaller than it used to be, we can do it because we’re smaller. There’s much less overhead involved, allowing us to make the same furniture but still keep prices down.”
Russ adds, “Having worked for Buckstaff for 13 years, as a project manager and also heading up installations and even doing some custom work on the side as a subcontractor, I knew the product inside out. When Buckstaff went out of business, we put in a bid on the intellectual properties. Since taking over, we really consider ourselves a reemerging company, bringing the high quality of what Buckstaff offered and putting our own modern stamp on it.”
The Buckstaff by Moss Designs furniture collections—from plain to ornate designs—can predominantly be found in schools and public libraries, and range from tables and chairs to circulation desks and shelving units, among other items. The company has even crafted chairs for Walt Disney World in Florida based on previous Buckstaff designs.
Russ shares that every project is manufactured to order, starting with rough lumber or veneers all the way through machining and finishing. “A lot of architects like to put their own style into their furniture and make their own mark on the specific library or school that they’ve planned,” he says.“
They’ll have their own idea of what they want the shelving to look like and what style of chair it should be, etc. We can custom build to whatever the specifications are calling for.” The firm usually does its own installation on projects it manufactures, but can also ship throughout North America.
It’s All in the Details
As owners of a relatively small family-run business, Russ and Phyllis can give the attention they believe their customers not only expect but deserve. Russ says, “I feel that we have a little more pride and control in what we manufacture because we are small and we are handling every facet of the work; we see everything.” Phyllis adds, “We’re able to give that detailed attention from the point of putting the drawings together all the way to placing that last shelf.”
Being green—from formaldehyde-free products to the locally sourced northern Wisconsin lumber—is another aspect of the business that is particularly attractive to Phyllis and Russ as well as to their customers.
Overall, Phyllis and Russ are thrilled to let their customers know of the legacy company’s reemergence onto the local furniture scene. Russ says, “Buckstaff is back, and is continuing the 170-year tradition of quality.”