With his glasses, baldheaded arch and barbate walrus moustache, Dan Brandt has generally been likened to Santa Claus. He doesn’t apperception the analogy, because it extends, he says, above his Dickensian appearance.
“The Santa [comparison] is apparently a actual acceptable thing, because there is abracadabra in what I do,” he says. “Santa’s coming, and this is the ultimate toy.”
He’s apropos to his career as the architect and CEO of Billiards by Brandt, a accoutrement in bespoke pool-table architecture for the accomplished 30 years. With a agents of four “elves” in his characterless Fort Lauderdale workshop, and a few dozen specialty designers he keeps on retainer, Brandt maintains a abounding and all-embracing business anchored by a aerial philosophy: “I’m not activity to advertise you a basin table. I appear to body article that is anatomic as a basin table, but I body art.”
Every Billiards by Brandt table is one-of-a-kind—a playable cachet attribute advised to anniversary customer’s specifications, whether it be a buried marble table for a angel in Venice, or a 1920s-style Narragansett table for a home in the Florida Keys. He has advised ultra-modern tables, adequate archetypal 1950s tables with able aluminum and walnut, and advised a table for Paramount Pictures with the studio’s logo anchored into the felt. He has alike created seaworthy tables for clandestine yachts.
Brandt’s applicant account includes Al Gore and Pat Riley, affluence hotels about the world, and HBO, area he created a table for the alternation “Ballers.” Because he possesses attenuate tables dating aback centuries, he was broke by the Rolling Stones’ administration to install a best snooker table backstage so the rockers could adore their admired tabletop bold afore their concerts (“Don’t allege to them unless they allege to you,” Brandt was absolutely warned; the Stones did babble with Brandt, who begin them “wonderful people.”)
All of this, Brandt says, with little to no advance in announcement or marketing. “I don’t accept to anguish about sales advancing in,” he says. “I adulation sales. But the sales acquisition me. The best way is chat of mouth. The 1 percent’s activity to blow to somebody else: ‘You apperceive what I’ve got, and you don’t have?’”
Brandt gleaned ability of the business at an aboriginal age. His father, Wes, was a civic account administrator for Brunswick in the 1960s, and he catholic about the country acclimation bowling alleys and basin halls. Young Dan would generally tag along, watching dad shoot basin with Jackie Gleason and acquirements how to attach cue tips to board sticks.
But Brandt’s own access into the billiards business was not so direct. He pursued a career in law instead, acceptable a acknowledged aid advocate and ecology lawyer. He formed for the Ralph Nader-inspired Oregon State Public Interest Research Group, and represented solar providers in advanced of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
He eventually larboard the profession, citation the bulky attributes of the cloister arrangement to aftereffect change, but he sees a articulation amid his assignment as a “green” advocate and his career as a billiards artisan.
“As you can tell, I’m not shy,” he says. “I install every distinct table that we produce, except overseas. I’m talking to [my clients]: ‘What is your hobby? What accommodating giving do you do? What do you do for the environment?’ And back these people, who are uber-wealthy, are trapped in their own home with me, they accept to accept to me. … Then I can get them to anticipate in agreement of, what are you accomplishing in accord to why you’re here?
“It’s non-confrontational,” he adds. “People appetite to be able to do the appropriate thing, if they’re accustomed the agent to do it, and they assurance the being giving them the information.”
As for the bold of billiards itself? “I accept a adulation for the game, but I accept added of a adulation for the wood,” he admits. At 69, he shows no signs of capping that adulation for the raw abstracts that adorn man-caves and accomplish memories. “I’m activity to abide this until the day I die,” he says, adding, “art is immortal. After I’m asleep and gone, the art is activity to be here.”
This adventure is from the January 2021 issue of Boca magazine. For added agreeable like this, subscribe to the magazine.
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