Owner Don Alexander says, "A friend once told me entrepreneurs see a different color, like there's another color in the spectrum. And you always have to look for that other color. There's always something else, a different way of doing what you do."
That different way of thinking is what's helping Don Alexander, owner of Alexander Manufacturing in Parsons, stay in business. It was started by his great-grandfather, a woodworker, in 1927, who quickly turned to metal and machine work. "They made one-way plows back in the day. Electric winches. Plow lifts, that lifted the plows, " says Alexander.
Alexander even created an electric lawn mower called the Parsons Silent Clipper. But Don says it was an idea that blossomed in the late 1990's that sparked a new growth in business, firewood racks. "We messed with it off and on for 5 or 6 years, and then along came the internet, and we sold our first firewood rack online."
Sold under the name Woodhaven, these racks can be found in retail stores around the nation and online. They make at least 18 styles, taking simple pieces of steel, turning them into something durable and useful.
Daniel Robinson has been with the company nearly a decade, currently as a welder. "Essentially, we just bring them in, and any holes that need to be drilled, any welding, fabrication we do all that. Take care of it and get it ready for paint. Each piece is then hand-packed, ready to ship to the next customer.
In 2003, Alexander Manufacturing outgrew their old facility on Grand. They set up shop in their current location, where they not only make firewood racks, they also do contract manufacturing, including welding and powder coating. Don adds it takes a good group of employees to keep the service and quality at a high level. "The key to that is you've got to find great people. The next key is you have to treat them well, give them the tools they need. And give them the pay they need to stick around and raise a family. It's all part of the whole picture.
As for the future generation of Alexanders, Don hopes to continue the tradition and hand it down to his kids. " It's more challenging, it will be harder for them to take over than what it was for me because of the additional challenges with the bigger size. I just hope they do the best they can, and if this is a part of it, I'll be tickled pink."
Alexander manufacturing was the first to develop the short cover for its firewood racks. And new this season, a couple of items to help you in the garden and on the grill.To check out their products, go to www.firewoodracks.com.
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