February 21, 2024

Jeff Perry spent the last 10 years building Stilwell, Kansas-based Fire Door Solutions to reach more than $33 million in annual revenue, but he recently sold that business for an undisclosed amount and bought a new venture he believes can grow even bigger.
Perry acquired KC Custom Hardwood in June, and it’s already growing so fast that he’s looking for a private equity partner to help expand the company’s footprint nationally. KC Custom Hardwoods harvests lumber from trees at private residences throughout the region and turns them into one-of-a-kind tables, shelves, countertops, bar tops, media centers, benches, charcuterie boards and artwork.
The lumber doesn’t need to be perfect. In fact, some of the most beautiful and unique creations at KC Custom Hardwood come from trees that were bug infested. The company cuts boards and then fills in the holes with epoxy, which is available in every color of the rainbow and of any translucent nature you’d like. Filled with epoxy, the cavities in the wood gain an artistic beauty.
The company has a contract with Kansas City, which cut down a slew of ash trees infected by beetles.
“The beetles leave pathways they dug through the wood that killed the tree — same thing with carpenter ants. Filled with epoxy, it makes for a really cool looking table,” Perry said. “While you typically couldn’t do anything with that wood on the industrial side of things because the integrity has been compromised, we can do a lot with it, making some really creative stuff.”
It can cost homeowners thousands of dollars to have trees removed and hauled away from their private property. But if it’s a big enough tree and the right kind of wood, KC Custom Hardwoods can come to a person’s home and pay them for it. In some cases, if the tree is valuable enough, the company has agreed to make a table in trade.
Walnut trees are the most sought after, followed by white oak, ash and red oak.
“Walnut is in really high demand, and fortunately for us, there are a lot of big walnut trees in this area,” Perry said.
Since Perry bought KC Custom Hardwood, he’s invested $1.5 million in new equipment to help boost business growth. He expects to spend another $1 million on equipment in the next year. One of the biggest additions was a Baker bandsaw mill that can cut slabs out of logs that are up to 72 inches in diameter. It’s believed to be the biggest saw of its kind in the Kansas City region. The saw generates business from other companies that need logs cut for special projects.
Perry also addressed the biggest bottleneck for the business: drying the slabs of wood. The slabs need to have no more than 5% to 7% moisture before they can be manufactured properly, and drying naturally can take months. Perry bought a kiln that can dry about 10,000 board feet a month. Last month, he added a second kiln that can dry boards in about two weeks.
Drying wood faster means the company has more raw material to build products. With demand for their products strong, more raw materials means more revenue.
“Our customers come from two fronts,” Perry said. “One is commercial, and typically they’re looking for a corporate boardroom, a sign, reception desk or something that will really make an impression. We’re getting a big chunk of business from that. But the majority of our business comes from women age 40 to 70 who want a custom dining room table, coffee table, bar top, countertop, bathroom vanity or something else for their home.”
KC Custom Hardwoods is at 1600 W. 8th St. in the West Bottoms. It has 20 employees but has been adding two or three new people every other month to accommodate its growth. The company has been hiring people to harvest timber, run equipment and manufacture the products.
Perry hopes to boost business growth even more in the next few months by expanding the company’s footprint from the Kansas City area to both coasts.
“We’re already working to hire two sales managers to start working the east and west coasts,” Perry said. “We know this isn’t just a Kansas City thing, but there is a national market that will want our products. So we’re going to start creating distributorships and figuring out ways to get into bigger cities like Dallas, New York, L.A., Seattle and Denver with showrooms to start promoting our products.”
© 2022 American City Business Journals. All rights reserved. Use of and/or registration on any portion of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement (updated January 1, 2021) and Privacy Policy and Cookie Statement (updated July 1, 2022). The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of American City Business Journals.


About Author

Leave a Reply