Lifestyles



Music in the breeze |  Wind Chimes produder
July 01, 2009 2:00 AM

News


Jamie Baisden scans every porch for wind chimes whenever he’s out. His obsession may appear quirky until you realize Baisden is president of QMT Associates Inc., a major manufacturer of wind chimes. “I’m constantly looking for our products,” he says. “I can identify our wind chimes on sight.”

The Manassas Park-based company makes more than 600 products that include 10 different lines of wind chimes as well as bird houses and bird feeders. Baisden bought the company in 2006 from Mike Throne who founded QMT in 1980.

“Mike was selling items in flea markets to work his way through college, and he noticed that wind chimes were selling well,” Baisden explains. “He started making them for retail sale. He was successful and then moved into manufacturing on a wholesale basis.”

All of the company’s products are made in its 30,000-square-foot Manassas Park factory. The company now sells to retailers around the U.S., and Baisden is working on expansion into the United Kingdom and the European market.

Since 2006, QMT has experienced annual sales growth of 8 to 10 percent. The company has about 80 employees that work at the company’s headquarters, factory or its 15,000-square-foot warehouse.
All of QMT’s wind chimes are tuned to a specific note during production. “Each tube is struck and checked with a chords tuner,” Baisden says. “We make sure each is on key. We use from four to eight aluminum tubes to create the scale we are looking for.”

The chimes retail from $20 to $600 and can range in weight from under one pound to 45 pounds.

When he’s not at work, Baisden and his family enjoy walking through the Virginia bluebells in Bull Run Regional Park or the meadows in nearby Manassas National Battlefield Park.
Manassas Park is adjacent to Manassas, which includes Old Town Manassas. The historic area includes local shops and restaurants along with the Manassas Museum System, which offers exhibits about area history.

During the spring and summer, Baisden and his family also visit the Manassas Farmer’s Market. “We like to pick up vegetables and meats from the local farmers,” he says.

The city’s economy
The City of Manassas Park was incorporated in 1975. In 1974 the Town of Manassas Park annexed 600 acres of land from Prince William County, doubling the size of the community. Two hundred of those acres were used to create Conner Center, a site for commercial and light industrial development. Today, the city’s main commercial base runs along Conner Center, Centreville Road (Route 28) and the Manassas Drive corridor. Almost all of the 300 companies in the city are small businesses, with the largest employing about 200 workers. The city recently opened the first phase of a mixed-use development, City Center. It includes two four-story buildings that will house retail along the first floor. The top three floors will feature luxury apartment homes.

Where to stay
If you’d like to skip the chain hotels and stay at a cozier establishment, check out the Manassas Junction Bed and Breakfast. The restored circa-1902 home is the historic district. Rooms feature period-style décor that includes four-poster beds. When available, organic and locally grown products are used in the B&B’s full gourmet breakfast. The Bennett House, another bed and breakfast, serves a full country breakfast. The turn-of-the-century, two-story home is furnished with antiques and reproductions.

Where to eat
A fan of Carmello’s & Little Portugal Restaurant in Old Town Manassas, Jamie Baisden reserved a table at the family-owned eatery for his anniversary. When the couple arrived, the restaurant had roses Baisden had ordered sitting on their table. “They really work with you,” he says. The restaurant features Northern Italian and Portuguese specialties. Other crowd pleasers in Old Town include City Square Café with French and American selections and Okra’s Louisiana Bistro with a menu full of Cajun favorites. Panino, an Italian restaurant in Manassas, is also one of Baisden’s top picks. “The owner is the chef, and they make all of their own bread,” he says.

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