LazerEdge Designs will be back on display this weekend for the Autumn Leaves Festival.
It might seem odd for a fledgling company to be a veteran presence, but the locally based group is making its fourth straight appearance on the northern half of the downtown stretch of the festival.
The exhibit will be back near Leon’s Burger Express and the public parking lot, said founder and co-owner Will Pfitzner. Being in the same place helps with name recognition with folks coming back year after year.
For this event with so much traffic, Pfitzner said it isn’t just about making sales on the spot this weekend. While every sale made helps, getting the product and name out there is important, too. That drives traffic to the company website where people can see the products, as well as the company’s message and mission statement. Many of the folks who buy something on the street will later shop for something online, too.
That mission statement, said Pfitzner, is: “To create beautiful art out of sustainable materials and use business to inspire and invest in the next generation of leaders across the United States – and one day, the world.”
Pfitzner, a Mount Airy High graduate, started the business in 2014 while a student at N.C. State University. What started as a way to create homemade birthday and Christmas gifts turned into a side income to make ends meet in college.
The son of a local doctor, Pfitzner graduated from N.C. State with a degree in biomedical engineering. Then he earned a day job as a technology consultant with a company called Deloitte.
However, his passion for his side project just kept on, and before long he knew that as a young man in his 20s he wanted to see what could happen if he put his full focus on LazerEdge Designs. He left his consulting job and put his energies in growing his company.
Spencer Coffin is also an N.C. State alumnus, said Pfitzner. The two met while Pfitzner was doing consulting work and hit it off.
When Pfitzner announced that he was going full-time with LazerEdge, Coffin asked, “Hey, can I join you?” Now Coffin is a co-owner.
Pfitzner said he focuses on creating designs and figuring out how to make them properly and cost-effectively. Coffin has taken over the sales and marketing aspects, helping Pfitzner’s creations find homes.
LazerEdge’s custom-design, handcrafted wood business has evolved and steadily grown over the past four years, pleasing customers with quality workmanship made in North Carolina.
Last year LazerEdge moved from Raleigh to Mount Airy.
A new development this year is getting a foothold into some universities through their campus and online bookstores.
Not surprisingly, LazerEdge can be found at N.C. State and Meredith College in Raleigh where the company was previously based. Also, additional schools such as Appalachian State, East Carolina and UNC Wilmington have joined the club — even a college in Iowa and another in Montana.
There are some other schools where LazerEdge might not be on the bookstore website yet, but the company has acquired a licensing right to produce products with school logos.
How did a young and small company acquire such licenses? The owners believe in giving back.
“Students play a critical role in driving positive change throughout our communities,” stated Pfitzner. “To help empower this next generation of leaders, LazerEdge donates a portion of each collegiate purchase back to a partnered student organization at that university.”
“Ranging from small keychains to large wall art, each creation incorporates a love for wood that shows through in beautiful wood grain, cuts and finishes,” said Will’s sister Emily, who has helped with the company since it moved to Mount Airy.
Each piece starts with quality wood that is laser cut according to an exact graphic design that can be duplicated over and over. Each design then goes through “a rigorous finishing process with an attention to detail that makes LazerEdge’s work shine,” said Emily.
Will’s design of a world map etched onto cherry has been popular. The map of North Carolina has been another favorite, with staining, etching and engraving to suit every taste. Customers can customize it to display a favorite verse or to commemorate a wedding – every piece can be as unique as each individual, incorporating their own artistry into the design.
Coasters and wall hangings are popular, said Will Pfitzner. The wooden ornaments have been a hit — so much so that Hallmark is trying the products out in some select stores in the Southeast. He is hopeful the trial run leads to Hallmark rolling out the product to more stores.
Coffin won’t be able to attend the Autumn Leaves Festival this weekend as he is displaying their wares at an event in New Bern, said Pfitzner. Spencer has a sister that lives down there where Hurricane Florence caused so much devastation. LazerEdge will give 10 percent of its New Bern sales to the city there to assist with recovery efforts.
LazerEdge has done shows in other cities such as Lenoir, Charlotte, Raleigh and Greenville, Pfitzner noted.
To fill the tent here, Will said he would be assisted by the Pfitzner family. Parents Glenn and Helen will help at times along with sister Emily and older sister Allie Pratt and her husband Ben.
In addition to the Autumn Leaves Festival, LazerEdge Designs can be found on its website www.lazeredgedesigns.com.
Reach Jeff at 415-4692.