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Small Favor Turns Into Successful Business
“Ten years ago one of my Amish neighbors asked me to help him sell some of his hand-crafted cedar chests,” says Rick Hansen. “We started a website and over the years the business has steadily grown. We’re now selling to customers throughout the U.S. and Canada.” Hansen’s business, called Harmony Cedar, offers a wide range of furniture that’s custom-made by Amish craftsmen near his farm near Harmony, Minn.
  “What started out as a small favor has turned into a great business producing good income for several of my neighbors,” Hansen says. One of his original chestmakers now has two sons who are building furniture for Harmony Cedar.
  Initially the neighbor was making cedar chests in a style that wasn’t very popular. To respond to customer requests Hansen suggested adding a shaker design, a Lloyd Wright-inspired design and a true mission version. Those proved popular and the local craftsmen have since produced hundreds of them.
   Harmony Cedar now offers many designs and sizes of custom-made chests, dining room tables and chairs, hutches, sideboards, bedroom furniture, game tables and television stands. Buyers can have their furniture made from oak, cherry, maple, hickory or walnut.
  “The craftsmanship of our products is really the key to our success,” says Hansen. “Everything is custom made from solid hardwood. We don’t use cheap particleboard with veneer, and the people producing it are skilled woodworkers who take extreme care in what they make.”
  Harmony Cedar’s furniture is made from hardwoods that are selectively harvested from forests and farmlands in southeast Minnesota. Hansen has planted more than 5,000 hardwood and pine trees on his own farm that will eventually produce wood for Harmony Cedar products.
  The company is also creating jobs for families in a rural area that has sometimes struggled with widely fluctuating farm prices. “Amish farmers are making money by building furniture but we’re also providing income for people who cut the trees, who operate the sawmills and for small delivery companies,” Hansen says.
   “The business has primarily grown through word of mouth,” Hansen says. “We have excellent testimonials, and using our website puts us in front of people who want handcrafted, American-made furniture they can pass down through generations.”
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Rick Hansen, Harmony Cedar, 1007 15th Ave. N., South St. Paul, Minn. 55075 (ph 888-959-8899; www.Harmonycedar.com).

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2012 - Volume #36, Issue #6