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Still Growing

A Sioux Falls company continues to experience growth year after year, despite the current economic environment.

Still Growing -01Prairie Heritage Furniture & Cabinetry produces a number of products like the furniture-style kitchen above, as well as closets, bathroom vanities and more.Jeff and Doreen Anglin, owners of Prairie Heritage Cabinetry & Furniture, say they are fortunate to live in “the pocket” of the Midwest. Sioux Falls, SD, to be exact. According to them, the housing market has only slowed down slightly compared to the rest of the nation.

“It’s very strong here, [although] there’s still fear in the back of everyone’s mind because we hear what’s going on around the country,” says Jeff.

Still Growing -02The photo above features several pieces fabricated by Prairie Heritage Cabinetry & Furniture. Jeff Anglin, co-owner, says, “If it goes in the house, we build it.”According to Doreen, Lincoln County is one of the 10 fastest growing counties in the United States, mainly due to the large number of medical facilities and credit card companies located around Sioux Falls.

“If you drive around, the town is growing all over,” Jeff explains. “It has slowed down some, but not like everyone keeps saying. Everyone keeps preaching doom and gloom, but we haven’t seen it yet. It is a very strong market.”

As a matter of fact, Jeff says the company has grown every year. So much so, that Jeff says that he “would like to see things slow down a bit. We are not complaining, but I push very hard. Every year we upgrade our business somehow — either with software or equipment.”

Their latest purchase, a Weeke Vantage 34M CNC machining center from Stiles Machinery Inc., has had a tremendous effect on the shop, according to the Anglins.

Buying the [CNC] machine was one of the key things that lead to increasing our productivity, that and new software.
Jeff Anglin, co-owner of Prairie Heritage Cabinetry & Furniture

The benefits are obtaining increased accuracy and freeing up at least two to three shop employees.

“We have a much better flow because that machine is cutting everything and it is so accurate,” Jeff explains. “Assembly at the end is a lot faster, too. It takes all of the guesswork out of it. Yes, there are huge learning curves involved, and you’ve got to have the right people that can do it, which we do, thank God.”

Another benefit is that they are able to cut down on waste. Jeff says that his waste factor is minimal because the CNC optimizes material. “The pieces that fall off a sheet, the CNC will tell you what size it is and you measure it, label it and put it in the library. For the next job we have to cut, since we use a lot of the same materials, it knows that there is a piece set off to the side, and it will call it back. So your waste factor is minimal. We also know how much material we are using because after we program a job, it tells us how many board feet we are using.”

Knowing how many board feet they use comes in handy because the company does not have to stock as much inventory, Jeff adds, and storage space is an issue for them. The total office, shop and showroom is approximately 10,000 square feet, but Jeff and Doreen say they need more room. “It’s pretty tight out there,” Doreen says. “We need more space to stock inventory.”

“And more finished product,” Jeff adds. Last month they had to rent a building just for storage. However, they are hoping to add an addition on the current building, which they erected just two years ago.

A Little Background

Still Growing -31Prairie Heritage Furniture & Cabinetry’s showroom (pictured in the photos above and below) gets approximately 25 percent of sales from walk- in traffic.
Although Prairie Heritage Cabinetry & Furniture started in 2002, Jeff has been involved in cabinetry work since high school. Initially he worked with other woodworkers and then started his own company, Mallory’s Custom Cabinets. Although short-lived, Jeff credits it with sharpening his business skills.

“It was a huge learning curve because I was a lot younger and I trusted everybody,” he says. “I was [taken advantage of] by a contractor, but it was the best learning curve I’ve ever had in my life. Then I just kind of disappeared for a couple of years to lick my wounds and went back to work for someone else.”

“After that, we started [Prairie Heritage Cabinetry & Furniture],” Doreen adds. “We actually started out just doing furniture. But as soon as people knew that Jeff was the one who started Prairie Heritage, we got a lot of cabinetry orders. So then we had to change our name to Prairie Heritage Cabinetry and Furniture.”

The company has grown year after year and now has 12 employees. Doreen credits their success with three words, “Service, service, service.”

“And, of course, adding equipment,” Jeff adds. “That sped it up.”

A Typical Product Line

Still Growing -31 -typical product linePrairie Heritage has a diversified product line. Not only does it fabricate kitchen cabinets with a furniture look, but it also produces commercial casework, bathroom vanities, closets, pantries and more. “If it goes in the house, we build it,” Jeff says. Their clients are middle -to high-income. The company services a 50-mile radius, which includes three states besides South Dakota: Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska.

Materials most often used in their products include knotty alder for its rustic look, plus birch, maple and cherry.

“We like to mix woods,” says Doreen, who does much of the company’s design work, like mixing oak with black walnut.

Machinery in the shop includes a Brandt edgebander, Bütfering wide- belt sander and the Weeke Vantage 34M. Prairie Heritage also has a “state-of-the-art” finishing booth with Kremlin air-assisted sprayers, a Techcore spray booth and Oneida dust collection.

Green in Sioux Falls

The green movement may be gaining traction nationally, but in Sioux Falls, SD, it is little more than a fad right now, according to Jeff and Doreen.

“It’s not a concept that has hit this area in general, I don’t think,” Doreen says.

“One of our vendors gave a seminar on green materials and I don’t think very many people showed up,” Jeff agrees. “A lot of the shop owners and workers are my age, in their middle to late forties or older. I don’t think anyone will actually do it here unless they are requested to do it — or if they are forced to do it.”

Jeff says that his customers, who are in their late forties and have built up some wealth, have not requested green materials.

“Until it becomes more economical, I think that it is going to be a fad,” Doreen adds.

Prairie Heritage does recycle its wood waste. All of its lumber-based products go into a drum and a local company picks it up and makes pallets; then it grinds it.

“They grind it all up and they sell it for bedding and fuel. That way we don’t have to pay to put it in the landfill,” Jeff says.

Still Growing -05 -finishing boothPrairie Heritage Furniture & Cabinetry has a “state-of-the-art” finishing booth with Kremlin air-assisted sprayers.Still Growing -05 -Weeke Vantage 34M CNCJeff Anglin says that he purchased the Weeke Vantage 34M CNC two years ago, and it has helped the company increase productivity.

A Good Rep

Still Growing -71Doreen Anglin says that the company plans to add onto its current building because space in the shop is “pretty tight.” Last month the company had to rent storage space.
Word-of-mouth strongly contributed to Prairie Heritage’s growth. “We’ve had a good reputation around here because of our service, service, service — and because of the product that Jeff builds,” says Doreen. “Jeff won’t allow something to go out of the door that isn’t an absolutely quality product.”

A good reputation and timely equipment purchases have allowed the company to continue to grow even in a difficult economy. Jeff also credits his employees. “They are key,” he says. “We have a really great team here.”

Jeff offers this tip to other companies.

Don’t try to do what the big guys are doing. Take what you do and do it well.

Source: Michaelle Bradford | | October | 2008 | CWB