TULSA, Okla. (AP) - When Rex Blisard built a camo-covered church pew to give to "Duck Dynasty," his favorite TV show, he had no idea his gift would result in a lengthy visit with "Duck Dynasty" family members and an appearance on national television.
"We love that show. We never miss it," Blisard said of cable TV's top-rated reality show, with some 13 million viewers.
Blisard is founder of Born Again Pews, a church furniture company in Leach, about 60 miles east of Tulsa on U.S. 412.
He and his wife, Courtney, were watching "Duck Dynasty" early last year when they saw a road sign on the screen and realized that an upcoming business trip would take them within a few miles of the show's location in Louisiana.
"Courtney said 'wouldn't it be cool to build them a camouflage pew and take it to them,'" he said.
"We built it, and we had everybody at the shop sign it."
Blisard and his son-in-law, Nick Howard, took the pew to the "Duck Dynasty" site in April.
They arrived unannounced, not knowing that ABC's "Good Morning America" was there filming that day.
When they explained their purpose, a woman there said they had just cleaned out a corner for the ABC filming.
She told Blisard that Willie Robertson, the Duck Commander CEO and son of the family patriarch, had commented just an hour earlier that they needed to find a bench for that spot.
Duck Commander is a family business that makes duck calls in West Monroe, La.
Blisard and Howard then met and talked at length with Willie Robertson and Silas "Uncle Si" Robertson.
The ABC film crew asked if they could interview Blisard and Howard.
The interview was not aired until December, when a controversy erupted over comments made by "Duck Dynasty" family patriarch Phil Robertson.
Robertson was suspended Dec. 18 by A&E Network after anti-gay remarks in a GQ Magazine interview. An unrepentant Robertson was reinstated 10 days later after a national outcry.
A day after the controversy broke, ABC resurrected the clip of Blisard and Howard and showed part of it on "World News with Diane Sawyer."
In the clip, Blisard said that everybody sets up a DVR and comes home from church to watch "Duck Dynasty."
After the Dec. 19 airing, people began to call and say they had seen them on television.
"It was pretty cool. Everybody at our church thought that was really neat," Blisard told the Tulsa World (http://bit.ly/19xhM5t ).
"I was glad that they showed something because I was beginning to think people didn't believe that we got interviewed by 'Good Morning America.' "
Blisard, a native of Siloam Springs, Ark., said he started Born Again Pews about eight years ago after experiencing a restoration of his troubled marriage.
"I was buying and selling horses all over the country, and I kind of got away from God," he said.
"We were split up for almost a year. My wife was faithful through the whole deal."
He said he went to church one night to hear his daughter sing, and something happened there that changed his mind about his marriage.
He told his wife, "I'm ready to make this thing work."
"We got serious about God, and he came in and absolutely changed our marriage. We're happier than we've ever been."
Blisard moved back home and got a job teaching shop at a school. When he lost that job, he dug ditches for several months in the winter.
Then he started buying, refurbishing and selling pews around the country.
When that market dwindled, he began to manufacture pews.
"It took off from there," he said.
He now has 10 employees and makes about 1,500 to 2,000 oak pews a year. He has sold them in nearly every state and also the Cayman Islands, Greece and Japan.
Last December a fire destroyed their equipment, offices and all of their records, but they have rebuilt.
Blisard said the use of pews had been declining, as chairs became more popular in churches, but that trend is slowing, and pews are coming back.
He said he considers his business a ministry, providing pews at low cost for churches so they can use more of their resources to pursue their vision.
Information from: Tulsa World, http://www.tulsaworld.com