The Legacy of Kountry Kraft – The Beginnings of the Custom Cabinet Maker
Kountry Kraft was founded in 1959 – when the cabinetry industry itself was still in its infancy. Prior to the 1950s, there truly was not a custom cabinetry industry to speak of. At that time, it was common for homes to come with standard kitchen cabinetry constructed by home builders. These cabinets were simple and often framed against the kitchen walls without a back. They were commonly made of metal or wood, and were rarely found in any other room besides the kitchen. There were no custom options, and rarely did the homeowner have a choice of wood or style. Cabinets were simply viewed as a part of home construction.
When Elvin and Helen Hurst decided to launch their own custom cabinetry company, there really was no road map to follow. No large cabinetry companies to model after. Not only were they selling cabinetry, they were selling the CONCEPT of custom cabinetry to builders and homeowners who had never thought about cabinets as an option or feature to their home. It was risky – Elvin and Helen were truly pioneers of the cabinetry industry – forging a path not many had traveled before.
But there were more hurdles in their way as they launched the business. Not only were they new business owners, with all the challenges that new business ventures present, they were also breaking the farming tradition of their Mennonite community, where everyone was expected to farm as their profession. Their choice to launch a business other than farming truly challenged common thinking – and their choice was questioned by those who knew them.
Regardless of the challenges, Elvin and Helen were committed to launching their business. Elvin had amazing woodworking skills and there was great demand among their friends and family for his hand-crafted cabinetry. They had a smart business plan and a philosophy that allowed them to stay true to their Mennonite roots of hard work and impeccable quality. They were smart and could see that their model would succeed. And it was with this in mind that Elvin and Helen launched Kountry Kraft in their family garage – the beginning of a legacy.
Stay tuned next week for part 2 in our Legacy of Kountry Kraft series