The Countertop Shop has ‘best year’ in 2011Written by Duane Ramsey | | email@example.com
The Countertop Shop in Holland experienced its best year ever in 2011 with a 29.3 percent increase in business over 2010, according to its president, Mike Langenderfer.
“We’re looking to grow in 2012. Customer service is our top priority and the biggest reason we’re successful,” said Langenderfer, who runs the family business with his wife, Karen, daughter Melissa and son Nick.
“How you treat your customers and employees is critical to success,” he said.
They currently employ 18 people full-time at The Countertop Shop.
Karen handles the administrative end of the business. Both their daughter and son worked in the shop during college and stayed involved after graduating.
Melissa now runs the daily operations, ordering raw materials and scheduling all production work. Nick worked in sales during college and continues to excel in that area today, said Mike.
The couple started out in the commercial cabinet business in 1988, building and installing custom cabinets for hospitals, schools and other businesses. They bought a small countertop business in 2001 and got out of the cabinet business by 2003, he said.
“It’s basically a designer market based on current trends such as darker colors for cabinets and countertops that are popular now,” Langenderfer said. “We don’t care what color or surface they want as long as we provide it.”
He reported that they sold 18 different countertop products in 2011, ranging from laminates and granite to marble and quartz, primarily for residential use. About 10 percent was sold for small commercial products such as supplying bathroom countertops for McDonald’s remodels in Northwest Ohio through a general contractor.
Eighty percent of the products were sold wholesale through kitchen and bath dealers, home builders and remodelers while the other 20 percent was sold directly to homeowners, Langenderfer said. The business is now 50 percent remodel jobs, 25 percent new homes and 25 percent light commercial such as providing countertops for assisted living communities.
The company had its previous best year in 2008 when it was finishing up in the housing market. It provided custom countertops for Lowe’s stores in this region for several years.
Then in 2009, Lowe’s began having countertops for the state of Ohio fabricated by a company in Columbus.
Langenderfer said that the loss of Lowe’s business in 2009 resulted in a 25 percent loss for the company. With a concurrent drop in residential business, 2009 was its worst year.
“At that time, we weren’t in housing as much except for kitchens and baths. We got back into the residential business through local home builders and remodeling contractors,” he said.
Corian countertops made by DuPont were advertised “to give your kitchen a new look by replacing countertops,” which became a national trend, said Langenderfer.
The company rebounded in 2010 and had its second-best year until they surpassed all years in 2011. Langenderfer said they invested in new equipment and trucks for the business last year.
Langenderfer grew up in Swanton and graduated from St. John’s Jesuit High School and the University of Toledo, where he met Karen. After graduating from UT, he served as a captain in the U.S. Marines from 1975 to 1978.
Langenderfer said he believes in giving back to the community and the industry. The company has provided countertops for homes built by Habitat for Humanity of Maumee Valley. He said they are active with the local Home Builders Association and Professional Remodelers Organization.
Langenderfer said he got very involved with the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, where he currently serves on the board for the Small Business Development Center located there.
He also became active in the International Surface Fabrication Association for which he served as vice president in 2011 and will become its president in 2012. He said he has made contacts worldwide through ISFA including the largest fabricator in Germany.
“I’ve learned a lot as far as growing our business through my association with them, which is part of the reason for our success,” Langenderfer said.