Born from a Therapist
Earthlite wasn’t always the industry leader in massage tables that it is today. Back in 1975, I was a new student at the Florida School of Massage. The first table I made was for a classmate. It was a beauty — Douglas Fir frame, Naugahide cover, foam pulled from an old couch. It must’ve weighed 50 lbs! But, in those days, there were few massage table manufacturers. We had to get our tools any way we could. I earned a few extra dollars making tables for other students. At that time, I used an old Sears Craftsman table saw and built them in a friend’s garage. I did this out of my love for woodworking and my desire to help other therapists “heal humanity through touch”.
Happy Hippie Days
For the next 6 years, I practiced massage therapy all over the country from the back of my 1966 Volkswagen van. I didn’t build any tables during that time, but I sure learned how to survive as a massage therapist and what a great portable table should be.
The name Earthlite came to me over the whine of my VW engine at the tail end of a cross country trip. It was a perfect name for my fledgling, eco-sensitive business. I was on my way to San Diego, where I finally settled down. My massage therapy practice took hold and I began making tables in my backyard with my old woodworking tools. I made a few tables here and there for some of my friends and referrals. I liked to say that they were “built with love”. They must’ve liked them as more and more referrals kept coming in. Massage therapy was becoming more mainstream. Many gifted people were entering the field.
Earthlite was really born in 1987, when Massage Table Store, the first California massage equipment retailer, began purchasing its tables from me. Fred Campbell, founder of Massage Table Store and a massage industry icon, put his faith and trust in us, and with that first big order, Earthlite was born. Living in California, with all its natural beauty, made us very conscious of our relationship with our fragile ecosystem. We worked hard to use renewable materials and environmentally friendly glues and lacquers, among many other things. This environmental focus has only intensified with time. We didn’t have a grand vision back then – only to make a quality massage table that our therapist customers could be proud of and would last a lifetime. It’s funny, I can’t help but fill up with pride when I hear from one of my early Earthlite customers who is still using his/her table today.
In 1991, Jon Roleder, an expert in furniture manufacturing, joined with me to help get the company to the next level of quality and efficiency. It was one of the best moves I ever made as demand for Earthlite tables exploded thereafter. Jon’s expertise came in quite handy. In those early days, Jon and I would deliver tables from the back of an old pickup truck in order to save even a few dollars in shipping.
In 1992, we added our first forklift. The quantities of lumber were getting too big for us to handle by hand. The bank made us pledge everything we had (including my VW) in order to get a loan. It was a big milestone for us.
We were so proud.
By 1997, Earthlite was approaching 200 employees. Massage therapy schools were opening everywhere. By now, we had the Spirit and the Avalon tables and were making chairs, stationary tables, and accessories. Four licensed massage therapists were employed by Earthlite to deliver a weekly therapeutic massage to each employee. Today, it’s a big reason why we have one of the lowest woodshop workman’s comp. claims rates in California. It’s also one of the reasons we still have many of our first employees dating back to our early days. If only more companies understood the healing power of massage.
Over the past 5 years, our business has become more complex. The rise of internet use, global expansion of massage modalities, and global manufacturing placed many new challenges on us. In late 2003, we took on another partner, Jim Chenevey, to help us navigate this global complexity and enhance our execution in this rapidly changing environment. In the past 12 months, our team has filed 16 patent applications, while innovating basically our entire product line. As of today, we have operations on three continents and have launched our global environmental sourcing initiative, ensuring that all of our tables are produced with the same environmental integrity.
Preserving our Heritage
In the face of this incredible growth and change, my top priority at Earthlite has become the preservation of our company core values and brand identity. First, I felt compelled to put down to paper our Guiding Principles, which work to set a framework for our relations with our customers, our employees, and our environment. You can see them on the back page of this catalog. Next, we made a number of Earth-friendly changes in our product line and sourcing, including our new, PVC-free NaturSoft™ and Nature’s Touch™ vinyl lines and an Earth-friendly global sourcing network. We’re proud of our efforts in this area, and of course, our work to harmonize with the environment will only increase with time. We respect and value the tremendous skills of our employees and will continue to be dedicated to excellence in all that we do.
Healing Humanity Through Touch
In early 2005, our hearts and values compelled us to respond to the Tsunami Disaster, with an employee matching gift program for the American Red Cross and the formation and sponsorship of the Earthlite Response Team (ERT). The ERT is a team of handpicked massage therapists, who delivered massage therapy to victims and relief workers in the aftermath of the Tsunami in India and then Hurricane Katrina in the U.S. I feel blessed that Earthlite is able to make high-quality products to assist so many massage therapists in their efforts to heal humanity. Earthlite is the product of a value system many of us share. Thank you for believing in us and our products.
May your journey be one of fulfillment and satisfaction.
Tomas Nani, Founder
Earthlite Massage Tables