With a life-long interest in sewing, Laurel Barrus, founder of Handi Quilter, had the idea for the “Handi Quilter” portable frame when she was looking for a way to take a portable machine quilting frame to her family cabin. She could not find anything to suit her needs in the marketplace, so she worked with her father to create something that could be used with her own home sewing machine. It had to be light and small enough to carry in her car yet adjustable so it could accommodate small or large quilts. When her friends saw the portable, adjustable frame she had created, they wanted one too.
Seeing her friends’ interest in her new frame, Laurel named it the “Handi Quilter” and set out to see if there was a market for it. She worked with several suppliers, produced a prototype and took it to the International Quilt Festival in Houston in October of 2000. On the first day of the festival, she called her fabricators and told them she had received enough orders to keep them busy until Christmas.
By May of 2001, the business was incorporated and Laurel and her husband Roger went to quilt shows around the country to sell and advertise the “Handi Quilter”, as well as set up wholesale business relationships with quilt shop owners to sell the frame.
The business continued to grow in 2002, an application was made for a patent, six competitors entered the marketplace. Laurel reviewed the market and saw the demand for a larger sewing machine. The only existing option was a commercial, long-arm machine which were typically too large, heavy and expensive for home use. Laurel recognized the potential of the home machine quilting market, if a quality product could be offered at an affordable price and fit in the home environment.
She explored the possibilities of an existing sewing machine company making a mid arm machine for her company. When none were interested, she decided to do it herself. In late 2002 and early 2003, she invested in the design and production of an entirely new line of products – the “HQ Sixteen” quilting machine and the adjustable frames to support it. She hired her own electronic and mechanical engineers, as well as support staff; established the manufacturing infrastructure for the new products; and created a new distribution network that could sell and service the machines.
Sales of the original portable quilting frames dropped off in 2004 due to market saturation, although the “Handi Quilter” is still the top selling portable frame in the U.S. The “HQ Sixteen” has become the centerpiece of Handi Quilter Company’s line of products.
Today, Handi Quilter continues to lead out in the quilting industry, following our founder’s vision – “Designed by a Quilter, for Quilters”®.
In 2010, Handi Quilter became the only longarm quilting machine company to achieve worldwide safety and electrical certificates for our quilting machines and systems, allowing HQ expand to more than 700 worldwide independent retail locations. Our dedicated engineering team works with quilters when creating new and innovative products. Handi Quilter’s continued focus on education is shared with national educators in our HQ Studio and throughout the U.S. who share their talents and information. Our recognized leading Customer Relations Team and Technical Solutions Team focus on quilters’ needs every day. Our retail partners are trained and certified the HQ Way, providing information and service in their local communities and our production team is focused on building the highest quality machines in the quilting industry.
Handi Quilter corporate offices, production and manufacturing facility and 3,000 square-foot education studio are located in North Salt Lake, UT. We are the worldwide leader and quilters’ choice for midarm and longarm machines. Our 80 employees are dedicated to creating, building, teaching and serving all quilters now and in the future.
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