Schmidt 60-year run ‘something to be proud of’
After 60 years of building high-quality cabinets and furniture, Schmidt Cabinet Co. in New Salisbury has officially closed its doors.
When word spread last fall that Schmidt Cabinet was not taking any more orders, a flurry of orders came in, some for homes that had not even started construction.
‘We had an eight-week delivery time at the time when it (closing) seeped out,’ Jonni Schmidt said. ‘Then, we went to five months delivery time because I sold 20 jobs in two weeks, and the last week I turned five people away.’
Schmidt said every one of their employees stayed to help through the final orders.
‘Which was great,’ she said. ‘I don’t know what we would have done if not.’
She said it was a good feeling to have customers wanting cabinets when they found out they were closing.
‘We feel pretty blessed about the whole thing,’ Schmidt said. ‘It’ll be different, but different is good. We’re ready to do something else.’
She said they were tired of trying to educate people about the differences of quality vs. cheap. Plus, the staff was aging.
‘We just could not find any young people wanting to learn the trade,’ Schmidt said. ‘We had too many orders for the people we had. And, we didn’t have enough orders for the overhead.’
When Schmidt Cabinets opened in April 1959, it was about the only thing in New Salisbury.
‘A couple houses, gas station on the corner; that’s about it,’ Schmidt said.
She said when the trucks pulled in to start construction on the factory, they got stuck in the soft ground.
‘So, they just unloaded and this is where they built it,’ she said. ‘Of course, if they moved back farther where it was planned, then we wouldn’t have had the golf course.’
The Schmidt family owned a nine-hole golf course, New Salisbury Golf Course, which closed at the end of 2015.
‘The golf course was a lot of fun,’ she said. ‘We have a lot of good memories. I hated to see it close.’
Schmidt said they had just remodeled and updated the clubhouse not too many years ago, with new appliances and a new roof and new furnace.
With that in mind, she said the 2,000-square-foot structure is for sale for $20,000. But whoever purchases it has to move it off the property. It appraised for $98,000, she said.
‘It’s got 12-foot ceilings in it,’ Schmidt said. ‘Some people like that, some don’t.’
She said the golf course property was listed in real estate but nothing happened. Now, it’s being held to see who buys the factory and its accompanying buildings.
The factory is on a sanitary sewer system and has natural gas available.
Schmidt said they’ve also cleaned up all the environmental issues related to the property.
‘We’re going out on top,’ she said. ‘We aren’t leaving a mess. Everything is going to be cleaned up; everything is paid for. We’re just ready to move on.’
An online only auction is up now on beckortauctions.com with equipment and machinery up for bid. The auction will end April 15.
It was truly a family affair at Schmidt Cabinets. John Henry Schmidt and John Calvin (Callie) Schmidt started the company with Oddas Schmidt joining six months later.
Callie Schmidt did the shop drawings by hand from the beginning. Now, at 91-1/2, he still is as sharp as a tack, according to Jonni Schmidt (Callie’s daughter).
About eight months ago, Jonni Schmidt said she had a problem on a job she just couldn’t figure out.
‘I took it over to him, told him here’s the problem, can you figure it out,’ she said. ‘In about 20 minutes, he had it. I already spent half a day on it.’
She said her father hates to see it all come to an end.
‘But, 60 years is a good run,’ she said. ‘That’s something to be proud of.’
The company’s last day was Feb. 22.
Jonni’s brother Jeff and cousins Mike and Lori Schmidt all joined the company from 1972 on.
Jonni’s son, John Anthony (Tony) Beavers, and Jeff’s son, Ryan, also worked for years at the factory before moving on to Magna Seating and Ford Motor Co., respectively.
At its busiest, Schmidt Cabinets had four plants with ones in Marengo, Hardinsburg and English accompanying the New Salisbury site.
It started by making bedroom furniture and tables and then progressed to cabinets for the kitchen, bathroom and laundry room.
‘Then from there it became cabinetry and furniture for every room of your home,’ Schmidt said. ‘At one time, we had eight lines of custom cabinets in a box ready to ship besides all the custom, per-home jobs we were doing. I can’t tell you how many kitchens we have sold over these 60 years, but it’s been thousands upon thousands.’
Schmidt Cabinets are in homes from Washington to Naples, Fla., and from Maine to Hawaii and in England, Spain, Peru, Cuba and Saudi Arabia, Schmidt said.
Besides family, the company had many key members, including Garry Brown, 52 years; Jerrell Wiseman, 47; Steve Fessel 46; Kevin Troutman, 14; Mark Rake, 20; Bobby Maymon, 42; Gene Westendorf, 32; Tom Jones, 36; Geneva Leonard, 34; Mike Manship, 45; Will Allen, 35; Stephanie Fessel, 20; and Jim Sampson, 52.
‘Jacob Bary and Mark Elrod hadn’t been here too many years, but we couldn’t have gotten along without them as well,’ Schmidt said.
Schmidt said she loved her job.
‘It’s been trying over the years but, all in all, I’ve loved the work,’ she said. ‘When you start in the summer and you’re 16 years old and have your whole life in front of you, you never think about becoming old. It’s just like life will be this way forever. … Where did the time go? They say time flies when you’re having fun, and no truer words have ever been spoken. To quote my dad, ‘It’s been a dandy’.’