Industry: Built Environment
Products: Sheds and accessory dwelling units (ADUs)
President and co-founder Mike Koenig not only provides customers with backyard offices, storage spaces, and "granny suites," his company offers tiny homes as well.
Koenig says, "We prefabricate contemporary-style backyard structures, ranging from small home offices, all the way through homes, small houses."
Given that many people need to work from home these days, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Koenig's company has seen an increase in orders for its backyard structures. "It was staggering," he says of the amount of business that has resulted due to stay-at-home orders. "We had to scale up our shop labor."
While people are often buying backyard offices nowadays as a means to achieve social distancing and to maintain their health in the midst of the pandemic, Koenig has previously sung the praises of his company's structures as a means of achieving psychological distancing between one's work life and home life. Koenig says of working outside of one's home, "You're inherently way more efficient in your work, because you're not distracted by the refrigerator and snacking and doing laundry and the doorbell ringing and the mailman." He adds, "Your best days have probably been when you don't bring your work inside [your home]."
But some people are also using Studio Shed's structures as their primary dwellings. The company seeks to appeal to millenials who "don't always want to be living in an apartment building" or baby boomers "wanting to downsize." And Koenig says the company is exploring the possibility of expanding into housing developments featuring its structures, "not unlike your postwar, ranch-style neighborhoods in Boulder."
Customers can go online to Studio Shed's website and use the company's 3D Configurator to choose the product details that they prefer -- for example, layout, siding options, and window configurations. Here's what the company's site says about the structures themselves: "Built with a variety of green materials, they are prefabricated at our factory in Colorado and shipped directly to your residence. Installation of our most popular sizes takes less than one week, including all interior finishes and electrical connections."
At its Louisville shop, workers cut, frame, paint, pack and then ship the "kitted, prefabricated parts," says Koenig. Studio Shed also works with a network of "51 general contractors around the country" who are able to do the assembly.
With a tilted roof, the company's Signature Series was its first venture in offering storage sheds or smaller offices, 240 square feet or under. The company has a pricier Portland Series as well: a gable-roof structure, which Koenig says "can work anywhere" geographically as an office or accessory dwelling unit -- from Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon (where tiny houses have become popular as primary domiciles and backyard Airbnb rentals). The Summit Series offers customers either a studio space or a guest house, ranging from 252 to 1,000 square feet; and the units can be linked together to create an even larger home. Want a greenhouse or a doghouse to go with any of those? Studio Shed makes those as well.
In discussing company sales, Koenig prefers to cite a figure other than units sold: "We shipped 120,000 square feet, last year," he says.
In 2013, the company worked out of a 5,000-square-foot space; now it's occupying a 20,000-square-foot shop and showroom, complete with its offices – which are its sheds located within the structure.The company says on its website that it's "pleased to have provided easy solutions to thousands of homeowners across the country, Canada, Alaska, Hawaii, and even the Caribbean. . . . We've also engaged in several commercial projects with Google, MGM, the Super Bowl, and many stadiums, parks and rec, and even built a 4,000-square-foot kindergarten in Lake Tahoe."
Owners of a Studio Shed office may ultimately see savings as a result of their purchase. According to internal calculations, Koenig estimates, "Our customers have saved over 9.2 million gallons [of gasoline] by just not commuting a couple of days a week."
Koenig not only expresses exuberance about his company's structures, he says it is notable how "excited our customers get. We have had customers cry with joy -- literally" at receiving something that they've dreamt of owning, delivered and assembled so quickly.
He adds, "It gives us a lot of energy here."
Challenges: Koenig says the challenge has been "finding great labor, because the construction industry was so tight, especially in California," even before the COVID-19 pandemic began. "That could continue to remain challenging [when things get back to normal]," he says.
Opportunities: "We see a big opportunity, certainly, with accessory dwelling units, and helping with [the housing crisis]," says Koenig. Specifically, he cites AB-68 -- California's recent move to eliminate single-family zoning -- as paving the way for more "granny suites" in that state.
Needs: "I need more time [in the day]," says a busy Koenig, before reiterating what he said to CompanyWeek when the site first profiled his then-12-employee business in 2013. "I still need more sleep."