An Ohio-based furniture manufacturer is growing its operations in Allen County in response to demand that has increased during the pandemic. Sauder Woodworking Co. says it is investing hundreds of thousands of dollars to lease and equip a 100,000-square-foot facility in the Cedar Oak Industrial Park in New Haven with plans to add more than 50 jobs. The company is using the facility to package IKEA kitchen cabinet bases that are manufactured at its Ohio location.
In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Chief Executive Officer Kevin Sauder said the company was looking for a larger labor pool as it sought to expand.
“We first look at good facilities. We like buildings that are quality buildings with the right access and foundations. We like the access to the highways…and then we like good people,” said Sauder. “We want to establish ourselves in a community that’s going to provide the kind of employees that we have here in Archibold [Ohio] and so we felt that the New Haven/Fort Wayne area in general could do that for us.”
In 2017, Sauder subsidiary Sauder Manufacturing Co. announced plans to set up operations at the industrial park and create up to 60 jobs. The new facility, construction of which was recently completed, is located across the parking lot and is the final space to be filled in the industrial park.
In addition to IKEA, Sauder manufactures ready-to-assemble furniture for other major retailers such as Walmart, Target, Amazon and Office Depot. Sauder says business flourished during the pandemic, which created the need to expand.
“It worked well in this particular case that we had the right product and could sell it in the right way and America seemed to respond well do that,” he said.
Sauder says while it is unlikely that the New Haven facility will transform into a production location, there is still potential for growth. Right now, the company is focused on filling the jobs it needs to add more packaging lines.
“We’re not sure if we’ll be packaging IKEA product there or a Walmart product over the long term, but it most likely will be soft of a final assembly or final packaging facility. It’s a small, kind of a hub-and-spoke sort of operation for us where we’re shipping in parts and shipping back packaged furniture and that seems to work well. Potentially, we could expand that in the future but right now, [the facility] looked like it was the right size for our needs for the next few years.”
South Bend-based Bradley Co. represented the owner of the building in the leasing process. The firm says having the facility leased before it was completed shows the need for additional industrial space in the New Haven area.
Sauder says the company was looking for a larger labor pool as it sought to expand.