Shorts and flips flops aren’t the usual attire of the president of a company, but that’s what Justin Labdon, president of Cape Cod Beach Chair Company, has chosen over the suit and tie wardrobe of the workaday world. Labdon left the high-tech world over a decade ago to return to the Cape and establish himself as a businessman that you could only find in a coastal community. Now, when he isn’t building beach chairs, he’s kicking back, fully reclined, on any of the Cape’s beaches in the comfortable, low-slung models reflective of his professionally casual lifestyle.
And Labdon’s day-at-the-beach attitude has caught on, demonstrated by the Cape Cod Beach Chair Company’s wide-ranging clientele. Boston Beer Company requested 2,400 custom Sam Adams chairs in their signature Boston Lager blue. Stars like singer and actor Harry Connick, Jr. and Van Halen front man Sammy Hagar have picked up a few chairs of their own. International visitors from as far away as Japan and Australia have made their way down from the nearby Chatham Bars Inn to his Harwich headquarters to purchase chairs. And nearly all of CCBCC’s operations are still conducted in the same special region that inspired its owner.
When Labdon found himself in a tight spot after losing his job in the wake of September 11th and the burst of the dot-com bubble, he didn’t have to look far to decide his next step. As the economy was sinking he found himself preoccupied with memories of life on the Cape: long days spent on beaches, and rock star summers when vacationing friends from Boston and New York would return for the season. “It was now or never,” recalls Labdon, “or else I’d get sucked into another job I didn’t like, living in some suburb off Route 495 and that would be it.”
After a weekend visit to his parent’s house in Brewster during the spring of 2002, Labdon found inspiration on the roof of his Boston apartment. While looking at his dilapidated aluminum beach chairs, he began thinking how beach chairs could be combined with the “Cape Cod” brand. When he was in the research stage, Labdon discovered that there were a handful of small operations in South Carolina, Florida, and Nantucket providing high-end beach chairs. (Now, all but the Nantucket Beach Chair Company have gone under.) This confirmed his thought that this idea could work. Within a few days he drew up a business plan, and with the support of his then fiancée, the Cape Cod Beach Chair Company was born.