By Margaret Jackson | May 17, 2021
Fort Collins, Colorado
Metal architectural and kitchen products
For the first time in its 25-year history, Raw Urth Designs has a showroom its clients can visit to see the company's artful range hoods, fireplace surrounds, wall panels, countertops, and backsplashes.
That's because the company moved from its cramped 3,200-square-foot facility to a 16,000-square-foot facility.
"It's nice for us to have a building that clients can come to and have a little showroom space and treat them like guests," says Sasick, who started Raw Urth with her husband, Stefan, and is the company's design and project coordinator. "In our old building, if it was snowing or raining, we were basically shut down. So much of our work was done outdoors because of space. We were so tight in the office, we literally couldn't fit."
Before the new building, which is around the corner from its previous location, the company purchased an Airstream to use as overflow space, and ran phone and computer cords out the window of its building and into the trailer. "They guys that were in there loved it -- they liked to be in this dark, little tin-can cave," Sasick says.
The Sasicks are selling the Airstream but plan to keep the original building they operated out of to ensure they have enough space going forward.
The company's first job was forging an outdoor fireplace basket for Stefan's mother in Winter Park. When builder Brad Smith of Terra Firma Custom Homes saw the basket, he asked the Sasicks to do some work for one of his projects. Today, Raw Urth's focus is on the kitchen.
"Right before 2008, we knew the floor was about to fall out," Sasick says. "We just looked at what we had been making for this builder, and we thought the range hoods were the coolest. We wanted something we could sell and ship to someone, so we built five range hoods."
They took those hoods to a trade show in Las Vegas and won "Best of Show."
Challenges: The high cost of materials and COVID-induced hiccups in the supply chain. Tariffs over the last few years also have contributed to rising costs. "Material prices are kind of going through the roof," Sasick says. "Costs have risen, and we haven't translated that over to our clients as much as we probably should. It would be super cool if the supply chain was more under control."
Opportunities: Raw Urth has an opportunity to increase its online sales -- if it can find employees so it can handle the work.
While most of its products are custom made, if Raw Urth is able to start online orders, it would offer standard range hoods in what Sasick calls a "builder series."
"You don't get to change anything, but you get it quicker," she says. "It's going to be great for us as manufacturers to get it out on the website and let people buy it now. That's what's really going to help us become more stable and achieve longevity. We could start doing sales the way other people do, but at the end of the day, a human needs to put it together and put that human finishing touch on it."
Needs: Sasick says Raw Urth needs employees. "My only handicap right now is shop help," she says. "There was a time when we needed more space, so we got it. We have the engineering, knowhow, spectacular people and a great product. I just need more help."
The company is close to hiring another CAD designer, and Sasick says her office and sales staff are strong. But hiring employees has been difficult for Raw Urth, which needs shop hands and fabricators. "I can't even get anyone to respond to an ad," she says. "I could double my business size, but I can't find employees. I'll put out an ad and don't get a single response. I can't keep up with the work."