History – by Steve Conant
I grew up making things; my childhood toys were the tools in Dad’s workshop. While in college, I worked part time for two years building a restaurant. That was more fun than four years of study. So after graduation, I built a workshop in a tiny garage and hung out a sign that read “Conant Custom Brass”.
Custom metalwork in Burlington Vermont was scant in 1979 but demand for restoration and repair services was high, so I did that. As business increased, demand for my fabrication skills grew, fed my “maker” craving, and justified a larger shop.
Dad’s workshop was a great start…
A maker needs a place to sell his wares, so in 1982 I bought a small building, added a retail showroom, and stocked it with anything I could make, repair, or refinish. My small vintage lighting and accessories collection developed to include all manner of lights, brass hardware, plumbing fixtures, faucets, fasteners…you name it. If I made it shine, it would sell.
Ten years of successful retailing provided a great launch pad for my big dream: to create a wholesale manufacturing division. We developed a line of high end custom lighting, weather instruments, clocks and bird feeders, and targeted the mail order industry. Oh, what a ride it was! Conant Custom Brass became recognized nationally as the leading manufacturer of fine outdoor weather instruments.
After fifteen years, the market began to change. Competitive pressure from China ramped up, the economy cooled off, and I lost interest in mass production. In 2008, I sold the Conant Custom Brass weather instrument division and rebranded the remaining activities as Conant Metal & Light, Inc. We moved away from the commodities market to focus on unique and artful design, products that are functional works of art.
Today we continue to provide design, fabrication, restoration, and contract manufacturing services to a wide array of markets. Our bustling retail store, sprawling workshops, and years of practical experience support a whole team of makers still passionately working wonders with Metal & Light. While we still produce a broad range of custom products, repurposed lighting, repurposed furniture, and everything industrial has become our primary focus. We believe there’s a bright future for makers in America and the domestic lighting market is ready for inspired lighting that reflects our industrious past.