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Last updated: September 17, 2013 12:27 p.m.

Custom molding, door, furniture firm to add 34 jobs

 Statement as issued Tuesday by Lake Area Designs:

LaGrange, Ind. – A new company that designs and builds custom wood molding, doors and furniture for the home-building, commercial construction and recreational vehicle industries is settling into its new headquarters in LaGrange, Indiana, and ramping up for increased production.  Lake Area Designs, LLC moved into its new office and manufacturing facilities at 1200 North Detroit Street in LaGrange in April, after investing $1.5 million to lease and renovate existing buildings to accommodate its needs.

Lake Area Designs, LLC was formed when a group of investors led by Rob West purchased the assets of the former Lake Area Mouldings Plus, LLC in Sturgis, Michigan.  The decision was soon made to relocate the new business to LaGrange, Indiana, to be closer to its customer base and reap the benefits of the Hoosier state’s business-friendly environment.

Lake Area designs and produces custom wood trim, doors and furniture from start to finish through its full-service mill room, assembly shop and finishing center.  CNC routing equipment ensures the precision and consistent quality of trim pieces, which may include intricately-carved designs or arched or elliptical molding.  A variety of wood types is available, and all of the wood is finished by hand to the customers’ specifications.

“We also do very high-end, solid-wood doors for home and building entryways and interiors, along with doors for custom cabinetry,” according to West, who serves as president of Lake Area Designs.  He said the company is expanding its residential products and services, and has staff members dedicated to working one on one with designers, architects and general contractors.

“We are a very well-rounded company,” West said.  “We offer hardwoods and custom steel parts, and can also work with customers to hook up with a landscape company—so we can offer all wood finishing to the house, add steel railings and other finish products, and then landscape your home.”  He also noted that Lake Area now has a sub shop that makes and installs full kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms.

The new firm hired eight of the predecessor company’s production workers and has since added 11 additional employees, making for a total of 19 current employees.  Lake Area Designs plans to create up to 34 new jobs by 2016, making it eligible for performance-based, job-creation tax credits from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC).  The firm will also be receiving tax abatements from the town of LaGrange at the request of Keith Gillenwater, president and CEO of the LaGrange County Economic Development Corporation.  “The LaGrange County EDC is proud to have worked with Lake Area Designs, which is contributing to the prosperity of the community and creating jobs for LaGrange County residents,” Gillenwater recently said.

In addition to Rob West, Lake Area Design investors and the management team include Steve Christner, who is serving as CFO and secretary; Danny Wingard, vice president of assembly and purchasing; Brian Miller, serving as vice president of operations; and part owner Bryan Copsey.  The owners bring to the table more than 30 years of experience in sales, management, manufacturing and purchasing.  In addition to the management team, Andy Peachey has been hired to handle office administrative functions for the company.  The remaining 13 employees work in the production facility, which will be expanding as additional contracts are acquired.

Sales to date have exceeded the investors’ expectations.  “I never thought in my wildest dreams we’d be this busy so early on,” West said.  To keep up with demand, the company is growing its mill room and assembly shop, having recently purchased new equipment, including an additional moulder and up-cut saw, as well as a curtain-side truck for deliveries.  The firm is pursuing new business to further increase capacity.  “We really want to push out to bigger cities and larger projects,” West said.

Lake Area Designs currently is consulting with staff from the Northeast ISBDC on marketing strategies for the new company, and previously worked with IEDC state and county economic development officials to relocate to LaGrange.  For more information, visit www.LakeAreaDesigns.com or call 260-499-3222.  To learn more about the services of the NE-ISBDC, go to www.isbdc.org or call 260-481-0500.