During World War II, Lay-Z-Boy had to stop producing recliners because of the war effort. As a result, they used their production facility to mass produce (presumably very comfortable) seats for tanks and other military vehicles.
The history of Lay-Z-Boy
Lay-Z-Boy is pretty much synonymous with recliners. The Monroe, Michigan company produces about 30,000 units per week!
The company was founded in 1927 by cousins Edwin Shoemaker and Edward Knabusch, a cardboard factory worker and a farmer, respectively. They were both interested in woodworking and began designing furniture.
Eventually, they built a reclining porch chair out of crates. But realizing that it wasn’t going to be very useful in the snowy Michigan winter, they followed up on a suggestion from a local furniture store owner to upholster it so it could be used inside.
Their “Automatic Adjustable Chair” wasn’t much of a marketing hit, so they held a contest to rename it. According to AdWeek (cited below), “suggestions included the Slack Back and the Sit-N-Snooze,) but “the founders settled on La-Z-Boy.”
An interruption in sales
It would take decades for the brand to become a household name. And the real secret to its success was the popularity of home televisions in the 1960s.
Unfortunately, the 1940s were a tough time for the company. After hardly being able to keep up with demand, Lay-Z-Boy built its first stand-alone 27,000-square-foot factory. However, production was interrupted one year later because of WWII.
As a result of the war, the company stopped lounge chair production and used its factory to mass produce plane parts as well as seats for war machines like ships, tanks, torpedo boats, and armored cars.
We’re guessing they didn’t recline.
Luckily, the pent-up demand during the way meant the Lay-Z-Boy was back in business in the 1950s. They installed an assembly line to help meet demand and invented the reclining rocker.
The 1960s were the real golden era for Lay-Z-boy. AdWeek notes that “Between 1961 and 1970, sales went from $2M to $50M.” Today, the chairs’ prices make them a near-luxury item. — WTF fun facts