50 Years In The Business!
This year The Shelving Store and our sister company Shelving Inc., are proud to celebrate our 50th Anniversary! Check out this great article featuring our "story" in The Oakland Press.
Family-run shelving business celebrates 50th anniversary.
By Barry Kalellis
For Journal Register Newspapers
Few family businesses survive for 50 years. In fact, according to “Family Business Review,” only about 30 percent make it to the second generation. In 1960, it probably never occurred to Jack Schodowski — a former math instructor at Wayne State University and later, a regional sales representative for a steel company — that Shelving, Inc., the company he started on the east side of Detroit, would pass the half-century mark. Or that his company would one day generate more than $6 million in annual sales, and go on to become one of the nation’s premier distributors and retailers of home, office and commercial shelving and storage products.
Schodowski began by selling shelving by day and building and installing custom industrial shelves for the automotive industry at night. Within three years, Shelving, Inc. had grown so much that the company opened its first warehouse on Grand River Avenue in Detroit. Soon, he hired an initial labor force that quickly outgrew the small office.
Jack added more workers and more inventory and then moved to a larger facility in Detroit on West Chicago Boulevard. Eventually, Shelving, Inc. outgrew that facility and moved to its current location in Auburn Hills in 1979 and expanded again in 1994 to add additional corporate office space. The 10,000 square-foot facility is located at 32 S. Squirrel Road.
In the industry, Shelving, Inc. was known as a storage system specialist and became a leader in providing heavy-duty shelving for commercial facilities. As it grew, the company expanded into pallet racking, lockers and storage cabinets, offering customers additional ways to organize storage space.
When they got old enough, Schodowski brought three of his sons (of seven children) into the family affair. Joe, Mike and John Schodowski learned the business from the ground up, assuming more responsibility as their father approached retirement.
When 2000 rolled around, Jack and his wife, Helen, decided to sell the regional business to his sons and son-in-law Jim Aiello. A plan to transfer the business from the first to the second generation was hammered out: Joe Schodowski assumed the role of president and handles overall financial responsibilities; John directs daily operations and manages inventory; Mike manages sales; and Jim is marketer-in-chief.
After the second-generation took over, they began modernizing the way the company did business. A critical step on this path was to open a new location — on the Internet at www.shelving.com. The next step was to open a new showroom and warehouse in Madison Heights called The Shelving Store to serve residential shelving and storage customers, a new target market. The company also opened a second website in 2007 to complement the new store, www.TheShelvingStore.com, for residential retail consumers.
“In our direct industrial business, we just don’t sell shelves,” said Joe Schodowski, “we sell custom-designed solutions for customers questioning how to best use their valuable storage space. We create space-efficient layout designs, recommend the right products and fabricate unique storage modifications.
“This represents about 40 percent of our revenue, and we have developed long-standing relationships with major organizations like Beaumont Hospital, the University of Michigan (and) Detroit Edison, as they build new facilities or expand old ones.”
The other 60 percent of the firm’s business comes from its two websites.
“In the beginning, we just used the Internet to generate sales leads,” Joe said. “Internet sales now account for more than half of our revenue.”
Adding online sales to increase the company’s marketing reach has doubled Shelving, Inc.’s business, which has been averaging an approximate 30 percent year-over-year increase.
Over the 50 years the company has been in business, it has served more than 30,000 customers. In the three short years that the online retail website has been operating, it alone has attracted an additional 12,000 consumers. It offers a wide-ranging selection of heavy-duty storage products that can’t be found in retail stores.
Weathering cyclical business recessions is a challenge for Joe Schodowski. It brings out his financial acumen and mettle. During last year’s downturn, he cut costs aggressively in advertising, marketing, payroll and with his suppliers. The effort led to the most profitable year in the firm’s history.
In the changing Michigan economy, Shelving, Inc. has diversified its customer base from primarily automotive accounts and is adapting to serve other industries, such as health care, biosciences, energy, education and federal and state government offices.
“The bottom line,” said Joe Schodowski, “is that everyone needs to store their things safely and securely. We help people organize their products in a way that they can maximize their storage space efficiently and also cost-effectively.”