Colman sees business expansion, job growth

Two businesses open in larger locations with assistance from HELP Fund

The stories of two business expansions in Colman, SD are somewhat intertwined. They both recently re-located to larger facilities within the city, moves that couldn’t have happened without each other.

Colman Building Center (CBC) owners Dean and Peg Gulbranson recently built a new showroom and warehouse in the city’s industrial park along Highway 34.

“We already had one extra warehouse in the industrial park because we ran out of room in our downtown location,” said Dean Gulbranson. “As we kept growing, we ran out of room again and needed additional space.”

At the same time the Gulbransons were contemplating another warehouse, they were approached by another business, Chester Mechanical, looking to purchase their existing space.

“We didn’t have any room to expand at our downtown location, so the timing was perfect. We decided to build a new showroom along with the additional warehouse in the industrial park. Now everything is in one location and we don’t have to drive back and forth to get supplies.”

After ten years in the downtown location, CBC opened their new location January 2, nearly doubling the size of their existing showroom. They now have about 20,000 square feet of retail and warehouse space, with land available for additional future growth.

Colman Building Center’s new location along Highway 34

Full-Service and Specialty Store

CBC is a full-service lumber and hardware store, helping make projects a reality from conception to completion. Draftsmen are available to design houses and other buildings, they complete the bidding process and supply all materials. They work with a variety of contractors in the region, including those from Madison, Sioux Falls and Mitchell.

The new showroom has a large selection of hardware and home supply items and because there isn’t another retail store in Colman, Gulbranson says they are like an old-time general store where people can pick up about anything.

CBC is associated with Do It Best, which is a hardware, lumber and building materials cooperative. While CBC has increased inventory with the additional space, the receive weekly deliveries so if there is something they don’t have, they can get it in a week.

CBC also offers specialty services such as building custom feed bunks and cattle sheds for re-sale.

Expanded service, continued growth

The Gulbransons were also able to add more staff and equipment with the new location, including a semi with a Moffett truck mounted forklift, which allows drivers to unload cargo without waiting for assistance. This allows for delivery of more items, allowing CBC to better serve customers as they continue to grow.

CBC currently employs 9 people and are looking to hire three more as soon as possible.

While they have been open for two months in their new location, they are still putting the finishing touches on the warehouse and are planning a grand opening in April.

Move brings additional business to Colman

CBC’s former location on Main Street isn’t sitting empty. The building has been sold to Chester Mechanical, which brings an additional six new employees to the city.

Chris and Danielle Shoenrock purchased Chester Plumbing in nearby Chester, SD in August of 2013. The business had been family-owned and operated for 85 years as a hardware store and plumbing service. The Shoenrocks purchased the plumbing portion of the business and re-named it Chester Mechanical, while the hardware store was liquidated.

Chester Mechanical is a full-service plumbing, heating and air conditioning contractor focusing on new construction, small commercial projects, winterizing lake cabins and complete 24-hour service calls.

Chris has over 17 years of experience in the plumbing industry. He worked for ten years as a plumber with a company in Sioux Falls, SD before working at a plumbing wholesale company as a salesman. He holds his master plumbing license, which is the highest certification available.

The Shoenrocks continued providing service out of the back of the hardware store in Chester after the purchase, but as the company grew over the past five years, they began looking for alternative, larger locations.

HELP Fund helps both businesses transition

“When Chester Mechanical approached us about purchasing our building in Colman, I told them to reach out to Casey at Heartland about financing,” said Gulbranson.

Heartland assisted both businesses transition to their new locations with financing from the HELP Fund.

Heartland offers low-interest loans to businesses in customer communities through USDA’s intermediary re-lending program, through the establishment of a revolving loan fund. HELP Fund applications are evaluated for their economic development impact and job creation potential.

“These two businesses are prime examples of the importance of small, family-owned businesses in rural communities,” said Heartland Director of Economic Development and Governmental Affairs Casey Crabtree. “Both businesses are filling a need not only in their community but in the surrounding area and are growing like crazy in the process.”

While the success stories of these two businesses are certainly intertwined, they are also in the business of supporting each other. Chester Mechanical performed work on the CBC’s new facility, including installing the in-floor heating system.