Cabinet maker to expand in Chaffee; buys building in industrial park

Friday, September 22, 2006

For many years, Columbia Sportswear, a sewing company that made caps and other apparel, was a major employer in Chaffee. Former Chamber of Commerce president H.B. Rice said it employed as many as 200 workers. But the 75,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in the city's industrial park closed about seven years ago, dealing an economic blow to this small Scott County community.

"But there's now some good news," said Rice, owner of Rice Insurance Agency. "S&W Cabinets, which is a state of the art facility, is expanding into the Columbia Sportswear building. That's big news for this town."

Tom Kelsey, commercial broker with Lorimont Place Ltd. in Cape Girardeau, who represented the owner in the recent sale, said the building sale included 9.6 acres of property in Chaffee Industrial Park, which is off Highway 77. He said the facility has 35,000 square feet of manufacturing area and 40,000 square feet of warehouse. The building had been owned by Penzel & Co., and the Lorimont Web site listed the property at $1,150,000.

Steve Seyer, president of S&W Cabinets, said his company currently has a commercial manufacturing plant adjacent to the newly acquired building, and expanding into the building will allow the company to mass produce a new line of manufactured cabinets.

"We should be in full operation by the middle of September," said Seyer. "The first year we'll probably have 15 to 20 new employees in the building and later on we could have 50 to 60 employees there, in addition to the 45 we currently have."

S&W Cabinets, which began as a two-man operation in 1954 by Marcus Seyer and Gregory Westrich, builds custom-made cabinets, countertops and other components primarily for residential use at a facility on Route M, just north of Chaffee.

"This new venture is going to be for a new line of cabinets, and we're going to be buying some new equipment to get this going," said Seyer, adding that a limited number of the new line of cabinets have been built the past year in a small, leased building. "The reason for the purchase of the bigger building is because this venture looks like it's going to do well for us. We could be selling these cabinets all over the country."

Seyer said the new cabinets will have the same high quality as the custom-made cabinets.

"These cabinets are not going to cost as much as custom-built ones, but it'll be the same high quality and the same hardwood. No particle board will be used."

Seyer said the cabinets will be more economical for contractors, spec homes and subdivisions where houses are designed with uniformity. They will be made of oak, maple and birch, and they will be sold wholesale to distributors and lumber yards.

"Right now we have about 40 lumber yards and other dealers set up with our cabinets," said Seyer. "The cost of these manufactured cabinets will be priced comparable to particle-board cabinets. They will really work well for contractors."

Seyer said his company has had solid growth. In 1998, revenue was $2.4 million; in 2005, revenue was $3.9 million. He said he expects sales to increase by at least 15 percent each fiscal year for the next five years.

Rice, the former Chamber of Commerce president, said Chaffee recently lost an anchor store -- Dacus Discount -- when the owners retired. He said Pendergrass Inc., an import/export firm that markets toiletry products, recently bought a building in town to use as a warehouse. Also, the State Farm Insurance agency has relocated into a new building.

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