Keeping local businesses close to home

Thanks to a new building from Premier Building Solutions, growing Mount Horeb-area businesses American Provenance and Water Quality Investigations can continue to thrive right here.

Keeping growing businesses close to home isn’t always an easy proposition, but Premier Building Solutions (PBS), a general contracting company situated in the township of Blue Mounds, is doing its small part to change that.

PBS recently constructed a 6,000-square-foot building on its property located at 2581 State Road 92 in Mount Horeb to provide an opportunity for two local businesses that have outgrown their existing facilities to stay in the area. Now, Water Quality Investigations and American Provenance will have a place in the community to call home for years to come.

Like many Madison-area communities, the challenge to find qualified workers from a limited labor pool is an ongoing challenge, which is why PBS is helping to attract and retain quality talent to its hometown, while also supporting the economic development of the community, according to a release.

As a small business itself, PBS understands the challenges companies face at the point where expansion becomes necessary. PBS first opened its doors 12 years ago with just three employees. Today it is thriving with 19 employees, including 15 who live in the village of Mount Horeb or surrounding area.

PBS owner James Leuzinger says that he and his business partner, Scott Zahler, weren’t planning to develop on their land, but when Kyle LaFond, owner of American Provenance, and Andrew Jacque, owner of WQI, approached them for assistance, they knew they wanted to help. According to Leuzinger, the PBS leadership team saw a win-win-win opportunity for a number of reasons:

  1. These businesses needed a fairly immediate solution to accommodate their growing teams and production volumes;
  2. The community will benefit as employees of these companies choose to stay or relocate here, and frequent other local businesses; and
  3. PBS is creating a project locally that allows its core team of employees, many of whom live in the community, to work close to home.

According to Zahler, “It’s the nature of the industry that you go where the work is. Although we perform work throughout the state, and even nationally, it’s a great thing when you can tell your employees that for the next few months they will be home to participate in personal and family activities, something we realize is important in keeping our great team engaged and motivated.”

Despite its past reputation as a bedroom community, the Mount Horeb area has been growing over recent years as a result of a number of businesses that have moved in both in and around the village, including Epic and Duluth Trading Company. PBS’ leaders also realized that sustained growth would be dependent on the availability of a wider range of job types and opportunities.

That’s certainly true for American Provenance’s LaFond.

Originally a middle school science teacher, LaFond traded lesson plans for a business plan when he realized that chemicals in his every day personal products were causing headaches. This discovery led to a project where students were challenged to dissect various products and find better, healthier alternatives. The quest to find more natural solutions for these products drove LaFond to give up teaching and establish American Provenance in 2015.

Since then, American Provenance has been operating out of renovated barn on LaFond’s family farm outside of the village of Mount Horeb, where he makes all-natural personal care products for both men and women. When business quickly started to take off, LaFond knew that he needed to find a suitable commercial space that would accommodate his increasing production demand and shipping needs, including loading docks. It was also a priority that the company stay true to its local heritage as the location itself has served as an inspiration to the products and brand.

“The rolling hills of the Driftless region exemplifies a romantic destination with traditional values and an all-around pleasant setting,” explains LaFond. “It’s just one of the reasons that I decided this needed to remain our home despite having outgrown our original space on my grandparent’s dairy farm, which I visited often as a kid.”

(Continued)

 

A coach and mentor through his work with the Small Business Development Center at UW–Madison, LaFond applies his experience to help other small business owners fulfill their dreams. LaFond says he knew he had found his new home when the owners of PBS wanted to help him relocate to a facility that supported his business’ growing needs.

American Provenance currently has eight employees and expects to add up to 10 additional team members over next few years based on its growth projections. In addition to LaFond, one employee is from the area and another recently relocated and built a new home to be closer to work. LaFond says he anticipates that others will follow as the company grows.

Like many new businesses, Water Quality Investigations (WQI) got its start with a vision and a basement. Originally a civil engineer, owner Andrew Jacque transitioned his career to the fields of chemistry and microbiology when he discovered a passion for water quality. WQI is unique in that the company doesn’t just treat water issues but applies science to uncover and correct the true cause of the problem.

As WQI’s client base quickly grew to servicing statewide and national clients, so did the need for affordable space to accommodate the increased staff and equipment used in uncovering complex water quality issues.

“We were on a tight budget and needed a quick solution,” explains Jacque. “When we were introduced to the owners at PBS, it was apparent they understood our challenges and wanted to help. They get what it’s like to be a new business and they’ve been an asset to us throughout the entire process. The genuinely good people here are just one of the reasons we wanted to remain in this area.”

Of the 10 full- and part-time employees at WQI, four are current residents of the Mount Horeb area. Jacque expects that as the company grows more employees may choose to relocate to the area, helping to support the growing community.

“The village is thankful to have businesses like PBS that are doing their part to fuel growth through job creation that makes it possible for people to both live and work in our community,” notes Carol McChesney Johnson, Mount Horeb’s economic development leader.

In addition to development designed to further evolve Mount Horeb as a top destination spot, the village realizes the opportunity that the manufacturing and commerce industries provide in supporting other local businesses, and the overall good of the community, says McChesney Johnson.

Says PBS’ Leuzinger, “We feel good about making a contribution that helped keep both of these businesses in the area.”

Click here to sign up for the free IB ezine — your twice-weekly resource for local business news, analysis, voices, and the names you need to know. If you are not already a subscriber to In Business magazine, be sure to sign up for our monthly print edition here.