Eric Laird has a special place in his heart for ceiling fans.
He was diagnosed with autism* when he was just 2 ½ years old. As a baby, he loved watching ceiling fans spin. His parents were told there was a chance he would have a limited vocabulary, but boy, were they wrong. Thanks to early intervention, Eric was able to develop his skills – both intellectually and socially.
With time, Eric’s passion for fans has only grown. At 8 years old, he started visiting antique stores with his dad to look at vintage desk fans. His grandfather took note of his interest and bought Eric a collection of 15 antique fans for his birthday.
Two years ago, we had the opportunity to meet Eric when he and his family made their first visit to Hunter Fan Company. We gave them a tour of the facility, including our industrial design lab and history museum. They liked it so much they came back in 2014 and are planning to come back again this summer!
Eric is a legend around here. Our engineers and designers know him by name, although he is more commonly known as The Fan Man. His knowledge about the inner workings of fans puts a lot of us to shame. He is confident, well-spoken, and has a tremendous support system encouraging him to pursue his passion.
Recently we had the opportunity for a quick interview with The Fan Man himself. See what he had to say about Hunter fans:
HFC: What is your favorite Hunter fan?
Eric: Easy. The Hunter Original.
HFC: Why is the Original your favorite?
Eric: Well, because of the cast iron. I really like the hotel original because it looks like an antique!
HFC: Did you see any of those when you came to visit Hunter?
Eric: Yeah, didn’t I see a few of them?
HFC: Yeah! Did you see any fans you liked in our museum, too?
Eric: Yeah, I saw the Tuerk and the belt-driven fan.
Hunter: So you liked those?
Eric: Yes ma’am!
HFC: You’ve come to visit Hunter Fan Company twice right?
Eric: Yes ma’am. 2013 and 2014!
HFC: What was your favorite part of those two trips?
Eric: I guess going in the design lab and the museum!
HFC: I talked to our head designer and he said that you were a super cool kid and that you even schooled some of our engineers. Is that true?
Eric: Yes ma’am.
HFC: What do you think makes Hunter fans different?
Eric: I think it’s because it’s the oldest ceiling fan brand that is still in business.
HFC: It sure is! What do you want to be when you grow up?
Eric: I really want to be a ceiling fan designer.
HFC: We think you’d be a great fan designer. What do you think fans will be like in the future?
Eric: Well, I imagine the whole thing will be made up of chrome – lightweight and a lot of carbon fibers. With the designs of fans now, it seems like a lot of them have silver finishes on them.
HFC: What would the fan of your dreams look like?
Eric: Probably an 80” Hunter Original.
HFC: Have you seen our 96” fans? They don’t quite look like the Original, but they are huge!
Eric: Yeah, I think I saw a video about it.
*Eric wanted to make sure we included that the reason he loves fans is because he has autism.