About P. Graham Dunn

P. Graham Dunn is a family owned and operated business that opened its doors in 1976. However the series of events that lead to this business began much earlier. It’s difficult to pick a time or place to begin, but we will try to do just that. The time is the 1940’s and the place is a politically unstable China. Peter Dunn’s parents, Marvin and Miriam Dunn, dedicated nearly their entire lives to work in China serving China Inland Missions, a mission founded by Hudson Taylor. Each began serving independently, and it was in China that they met and were married. Miriam kept a memoir of her experiences as a child of missionaries growing up in China herself. It is Peter’s goal to one day have these memories published and shared. Marvin and Miriam continued serving until their retirement in 1973.

During World War II, Marvin and Miriam were serving in a small village helping a young couple prepare for their wedding ceremony. Unfortunately due to the war, the bride was having difficulty obtaining silk for her wedding dress. Eventually some silk was rounded up for the dress from a most unusual source. The wedding dress was made from silk parachutes of American aviators who had just finished a near suicide mission over Japan. The man in charge of the operation was none other than Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle.

China was a very turbulent and dangerous place in the 40’s and 50’s for foreigners. In 1944 Mr. and Mrs. Graham Hutchinson were led to join the China Inland Mission. During these years of service, Japan invaded China and the invasion was followed by intense civil war. This put the lives of missionaries at risk. The mission board ordered the evacuation of all who were serving in southwestern China. This included the Graham Hutchinson’s and also Marvin and Miriam Dunn. The route to safety was a bumpy flight on a DC-3 over the Himalayas into India. The Graham Hutchinson’s were scheduled to fly out on the same plane as the Dunn’s. However, the plane ran out of seating before everyone was loaded. The childless Hutchinson’s noticed that Miriam was obviously pregnant and had not been seated. They voluntarily gave up their seats so Miriam and Marvin could take the first flight out of China. After arriving safely in India, Miriam and Marvin were devastated to learn the following flight crashed into the Himalayas and everyone on board perished.

Miriam gave birth to Peter’s older sister Rosemary in India. After returning to China less than two years later to resume their work, Miriam gave birth to a son. She named him Peter Graham Dunn in recognition of the sacrifice the Graham Hutchinson’s made. Later when Peter chose a name for his new business, it was important to emphasize Graham. Finally, when Peter and his wife LeAnna had their son Thomas, they extended this recognition by naming him Thomas Graham Dunn.

Peter’s journey from China to the world’s largest Amish and Mennonite community took him through Three Hills, Alberta. It was there while Peter was a young man that he spotted the young lady who would later become his wife, LeAnna Gerber, a Mennonite from the United States. Peter courted LeAnna for nearly 7 years, never seeming to gain her affection. While nearly ready to give up, Peter traveled to Ohio to visit LeAnna and her family over the Christmas holidays of 1971. Sitting atop the silo on the family farm, LeAnna turned to Peter and asked if he was going to ask to marry her, or what! And marry her he did.

In 1972, newlyweds Peter and LeAnna Dunn accepted a mission from their church to open a home for runaway girls in New York City. In order to keep the girls occupied, they initiated a small woodworking business. The girls carved plaques and gifts that quickly became popular items at out-door markets in Greenwich Village. When the mission in New York was complete, the couple bought the woodworking equipment and installed it on their farm in Dalton, Ohio.

Peter spent the next two years building silos for area farmers to support his family, while perfecting his designs and manufacturing techniques during every spare moment. In 1977, he received an order for 3,000 items, allowing him to devote all his energies to his growing business. For the next twenty years, he designed every plaque, gift and each item of furniture. Today, a diverse group of employees contributes to the design process, resulting in a healthier company and broader market appeal.
In the early days, the work was labor-intensive. In time, the company began to computerize carving and laser operations and found it could compete successfully with offshore manufacturers. Today P. Graham Dunn serves over 4,000 accounts, most in the U.S., and the remainder in Canada and around the world.

P. Graham Dunn is located in Dalton, Ohio operating in a 140,000 square foot manufacturing facility. Inside the facility is an 18,000 square foot retail store and viewing gallery. Guests enter the massive two-story lobby where oversized plaques adorn the walls, scripture is carved into the crown molding, and where they’ll find one of Ohio’s largest indoor murals. Ascending to the second floor store, windows along each side give visitors a bird’s eye view of the production process from start to finish. Lasers in the store are available for custom engraved gifts on the spot. Additionally services are available to bring your own custom ideas to life. And if that wasn’t enough bargain shoppers flock to the Factory Outlet where we constantly add overstocked, scratch & dent, prototype, discontinued, and unfinished merchandise.

P. Graham Dunn opened two stores in Gatlinburg, TN, a store in Branson, MO, Walnut Creek, OH, and in Crocker Park in Westlake, OH. Additionally you can use the store locator on this website to find a retailer in your area that carries our product.

While much has changed at P. Graham Dunn over the past thirty years, much remains the same. The first two employees of the company are still active in the business. Robert Shetler is vice president of manufacturing and Carol Currie who works in the shipping department. While Peter’s wife LeAnna no longer manages the finances for the business, she actively helps choose all the scripture engraved on the prints. Peter’s son, Paul, is a Co-President and does much of the product design and custom work and his son-in-law Joe Knutson, Co-President, covers sales and marketing.

While we strive to ensure P. Graham Dunn is successful in a competitive manufacturing environment, we will never lose sight of the sacrifice the Graham Hutchinson’s made, for the service Peter’s parents contributed to China, and ultimately our mission to Lift Him Up.

12 Responses to About P. Graham Dunn

  1. Donna Fuller says:

    Wow, Peter! Your story is incredible! I never knew much of that, how you and LeAnna started out working in N.Y.! We really desire to someday visit Ohio & your beautiful ‘shop’! Rosie just exclaims over how awesome it is! Thank you for posting this whole wonderful story of your dear parents and your life. Sincerely, Donna Fuller

  2. Naomi Parvin Rodriguez says:

    Wow! What a wonderful story! I don’t know if you kids remember me; I am a PHS Grad of 1965 (Jennifer and I were in the same class) and a PBI Grad of 1969. LeAnne, didn’t you and I graduate together? It is wonderful to see how the Lord has led you over the years. I came across this page when I was looking into the current events happening at Prairie and I clicked on the link to your blog. I agree with you completely, tho I have not had much time to digest it all, only having discovered it last night at work on the internet. God bless you both and your family and business.

    Naomi Rodriguez

    • peter says:

      Hi, Naomi! Yes, LeAnna and I both remember you. Don’t know if you knew that Jennifer passed on to glory in 2000.

      The situation at Prairie right now is rather sensitive, but this will all work out in the end. So glad you commented.

  3. Naomi Parvin Rodriguez says:

    I had heard about Jen, but none of the details. Re: Prairie: I don’t need to tell you that Satan will do all he can to discredit God’s Servants. Am praying.

  4. David Birch says:

    Peter,

    What a truly amazing heritage you have. What beautiful people the Graham Hutchinsons obviously had to have been.

    David Birch

    PS Was your mother a medical doctor. Somehow I seem to have heard, long ago, that she was. I know that my parents had great respect for her.

    • peter says:

      Mother was a nurse. Here twin brothers Bob and Bill were both doctors. You realize, of course, that our company is named in honor of Mr. Graham Hutchinson. Yes – an amazing heritage. Thanks, David.

  5. Catherine (Cathie) Amelia Thompson Richardson says:

    Cathie as I am known. I attended Prairie and graduated in 1963. When I was born, I was named for two ladies who were missionaries with CIM. One was Cathie McGlashan Smith – Martyn’s mom – and the other was a lady named Amelia Hutson. Just curious if you have any information on Mrs. Hutson. I know she was a friend of my mothers’ but I reallyknow nothing about her. If you have any information regarding her, I would appreciate knowing. However, if you do not know of her, I will still be the same person – Auntie Cathie to the Thompson clan.

    • peter says:

      Sorry, can’t help you on that one! Is there a girl named Cathie named after you? I’m good friends with Martyn. Interesting how missionaries names were used! My father Marvin Dunn had a boy Marvin Hallgren, son of Bengt and Edga Hallgren, named after him.

  6. Al Hiebert says:

    We visited your shop in Branson, MO in October 2010. Fantastic stuff!! We were delighted to read your story about the NYC girls’ home origins of this venture & see your company video. I did my PhD at NYU in 1975-78. We lived in Queens (Richmond Hill) in 1975 & 1977 & at NYU on Manhatten in 1976.

    I graduated from PBI in 1962. Had no idea when we were in your shop in Branson last year that you and LeAnn were fellow PBI grads. My wife and I have Mennonite roots of the Russian/Dutch variety (not Swiss Brethren like the Gerbers).

    Small world.

  7. Jesse Latta says:

    Mr. Dunn,
    I am so appreciative of your work. My wife and I have been huge fans of your wall art and plaques. At least once a year, we always get a new piece for our home or my office. I am a Youth Pastor and just moved from Tennessee to Texas and greatly miss your two stores in Gatlinburg. Thanks for taking a stand for Jesus Christ and for producing beautiful artwork that allows people like me to have awesome Christ exalting pieces on their walls. May God bless you and your family!

  8. ALAN CHANT says:

    i just watched chariots of fire. brought to mind your mom and dad, marvin and miriam. i got to know them in their retirement. i became involved in a company called successful living of canada, eventually bought out marvin and miriam from teh business as i sought to work in that area. i have several interesting stories of their working in that business. one was when we went to banff to look after several accounts, we ended up relaxing in the hot sulpher springs pool there, imagine the surprise when marvin started talking in fluent (MANDARIN?) with a young chinese couple on a trip in western canada. they talked probably for an hour… marvin was always ready to plant a seed of witness whether by a word, a tract, or a kindness. many good memories. al

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