PLAINVILLE, KS — Kansas was the location for the 1939 iconic hit “The Wizard of Oz” but Plainville, Kansas is the location of a new wizard in the name of Chuck Comeau. He is the founder of Dessin Fournir, the parent of 13 home furnishings companies that started in 1993 with $250,000 in start-up capital and another partner in Los Angeles and moved to Plainville, KS in 1996.
In an interview with CNN Money in 2009, Comeau wouldn’t disclose revenues except to say they fall somewhere in the low eight figures but he said that Dessin Fournir had seen 11% average annual revenue growth since its founding in Los Angeles. After 2009, we don’t know what the growth rate is.
One of the factors making that growth possible, he explained in that same article had to do with the Plainville community and, in particular, his now 100 employees, all locals. “They take pride in the company and are as devoted as I am to making it a success,” Comeau said in the same CNN/Money article.
Comeau himself, grew up in the area and went to Hays High School, the neighboring town to Plainville (30 minutes away by car) where he has invested in resurrecting old buidings and renting them out successfully. Again, he likes old things and buffs them to a high shine. In the same vein, Comeau has a burning desire to preserve the heritage of fine furniture and fabrics by breathing new life into his acquisitions and start-ups. He obviously likes the finer things in life and the water he drinks in Plainville must have a special power—greater than Los Angeles where he started or in New York, the location of Rose Cumming which was moved to Plainville. To get to Plainville, you can fly into Denver and there is one flight per day on United Airlines to Hays, Kansas.. You have to be really motivated to get there. Kansas City Airport, the only International airport in the area, is 240 miles away.
These companies were either started from scratch or acquired by Comeau. The latest acquisition was O.J. Van Maele , a Belgian linen weaver which was renamed Van Maele. Comeau, acting as Managing Partner of Garnell Lake Investment Co., which also includes 11 interior designers own Van Maele today and saved it from bankruptcy. (See separate story about Van Maele in this issue)Van Maele has been a regular player at Proposte and this year was no exception but Comeau was not in attendance this year. He was nursing a bad back in Plainville and then came down with pneumonia.