Craftsmanship and Creativity 7

Each Piece A Work of Art

Step into the simple but stylish showroom of Unruh Furniture and you immediately get a sense of what this company has to offer: beautiful, handcrafted furniture with a rustic, country flair. Located in the corner of their warehouse, across the street from the Grandview water tower, visitors can view samples, but there is no inventory here.

From tables to consoles, hutches and sideboards, Unruh Furniture creates each piece according to the vision and specifications of the customer.

“When customers come in, we talk about the size of their room and the colors of their walls and floor,” says owner Sam Unruh. “We take that information and help them create the perfect piece for their specific space.”

Unruh is definitely on to something. Demand for his furniture has steadily grown since the company officially opened its doors just over three years ago.

Unruh grew up in the country south of Kansas City, and his family had a barn out back filled with scrap wood and tools. He would spend hours in there building whatever he could dream up. Little did he know a childhood passion of turning raw wood into something beautiful would eventually grow into a successful business.

As a young adult, Unruh was working in a job he didn’t love, making furniture in his garage for family and friends in his free time and selling a few pieces along the way. In spring 2012, he was 26, married and had his first baby on the way. But his wife convinced him to quit his job and try to make furniture full time.

“I thought it was crazy to go out on my own, but she believed in me and encouraged me to dive in,” Unruh explains. “I didn’t have a business plan or a marketing budget, I just knew I had to make three pieces a week to pay the mortgage and buy groceries!”

Within a year, Unruh hired his first employee, Robb Cortes, and moved out of his garage. He purchased an old house on Main Street in downtown Grandview, gutted it, and made it into a furniture shop.

The business took off. They outgrew the house within nine months, so Unruh sold it and purchased a nearby warehouse. And he added more employees.

“In January 2014, I hired Jacob and Cody, then Drew and Josiah and, by the end of the year, there were 10 of us. Needing even more space, I bought the neighboring warehouse and connected the two buildings. We’ve been here ever since.”

Today, Unruh has 13 employees plus Pete, the shop dog.

“When it was just me, I built about three pieces a week and now we build 20 to 30,” he says.

In a very short time, Unruh Furniture has become the “go to” company in Kansas City for custom, handcrafted furniture.

Unruh attributes the growth to two things: the people and the product.

“First, we are not a faceless, overseas assembly line,” he says. “We are young men working together in a young company. We really like what we do and we like each other.”

Unruh says the work place environment resembles a family. The group loves spending time together. They play fantasy football and this summer went on a great camping trip along the Buffalo River. Their families all know each other.

“It is important to me to keep that culture as we grow,” Unruh says.

A high quality product is the other key factor.

“Every piece is handmade from start to finish,” Unruh explains. “We use only the highest quality solid wood boards. A professional, eight-step finishing process produces an ultra-smooth, character-rich surface. And after assembly, edges and seams are fastidiously scraped and artistically chiseled to give it that one-of-a-kind, tastefully weathered appearance.”

Unruh has no shortage of happy customers.

“Unruh Furniture transformed mere pieces of wood into the most beautiful family table and benches imaginable,” says Michelle O’Brien of Overland Park.”

“I needed a long, narrow table, a size that wasn’t available in stores,” says Wendy Neihart of Prairie Village. “Unruh Furniture built a French Country table with a rich, dark top and legs that were painted in cream and distressed slightly, and it’s beautiful! Perfect for my space.”

Unruh’s vision for his company is to keep doing what they are doing, in the way they are doing it, and to continue to grow.

“I love our products. I think we offer the people of Kansas City a great option for furniture.”

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