Spreading Ivy - LancasterOnline: Business

Spreading Ivy

Custom cabinetry firm buys former Herr & Sacco property to replace leased site it has occupied since its start in 2005.

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Posted: Sunday, March 25, 2012 12:06 am | Updated: 2:53 pm, Tue Sep 24, 2013.

The feeble economy is leaving many companies too weak to even dream of expanding.

But for those companies that are healthy and looking to grow, there has never been a better opportunity to make a larger location a reality.

Just ask Ivy Creek Custom Cabinetry.

The young small business is moving to the former Herr & Sacco property in Landisville this spring in a $1.5 million project.

"The cost of real estate and financing have really come down," said Stephen Brown, Ivy Creek president.

"All the stars aligned at the right time for us."

Ivy Creek has been at its leased 499 Running Pump Road location since its inception in 2005.

But now with 30 employees, Ivy Creek is finding the 15,000-square-foot site too small.

Buying the former Herr & Sacco property at 99 Elmwood Ave. turns Ivy Creek into an owner rather than a renter.

"My partner (co-founder Dean Gochnauer) and I decided years ago that this was what we wanted to do.

"From Day 1, this was our plan. We anticipated leasing for five or six years, then buying a place," he said.

Ivy Creek bought the 2.6-acre parcel for $900,000 earlier this month, according to courthouse records.

Scott Bradbury of U.S. Commercial Realty handled the transaction.

Another $600,000 or so will be spent on renovations, Brown said last week.

Work will include upgrading the sprinkler and electrical systems and making the building comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Ivy Creek expects to move the five miles to its new home by June 1.

Herr & Sacco, a mechanical contracting firm, moved last May to 1831 Auction Road, Manheim.

Since Ivy Creek's new home measures 46,000 square feet, the acquisition does more than turn Ivy Creek into an owner.

The deal will lead the firm to become a landlord as well.

Ivy Creek plans to occupy about 25,000 square feet and find a tenant for the remainder, Brown said.

Financing for the purchase and renovation was obtained from the U.S. Small Business Administration 504 loan program, arranged through the Economic Development Co. of Lancaster County and York Traditions Bank.

The Landisville property was not Ivy Creek's first choice. It had a property on the east side of Lancaster under agreement initially.

But after learning it would have to spend $250,000 for a water pump and tank to upgrade the building's sprinkler system, "we decided to look some more," said Brown.

The search for larger facilities was prompted by Ivy Creek's positive business performance.

"We've been fortunate enough to have a steady increase in business over the years," Brown said.

Sales last year were $2.5 million. A rise of 10 percent or more is forecast for this year.

Brown attributed the success to Ivy Creek's "outstanding, very loyal work force," who produce cabinets with "quality and value that are second to none," and to Ivy Creek's relationship with its dealers.

Brown, 51, of York, and Gochnauer, 46, of Centerville, opened Ivy Creek after working together for about 18 years at another Lancaster cabinetmaker.

"We wear separate hats," Brown said. "Our skills mesh well together."

Brown is in charge of administration, such as sales and accounting, while Gochnauer is in charge of manufacturing.

The founders came up with the name for their firm when they were touring a potential location in Columbia. Behind the building was a creek and lots of ivy.

"Ivy Creek sounds high-end. It sure sounds better than Steve & Dean's Kitchens," Brown said laughing.

Indeed, Ivy Creek describes itself as a high-end custom manufacturer of "whole house" cabinetry.

Brown explained, "Our core business is kitchen and bath cabinetry, but we don't limit it to that."

Its cabinetry also goes into dens, closets, even garages. But Ivy Creek is flexible as well, making items such as fireplace mantels, too.

"If it can be built out of wood, we can generally do it," Brown said.


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