Building Michiana: Handcrafted goods from South Bend Woodworks
Michiana is blessed with many successful businesses.
On Thursday night, 16 News Now kicked off a new segment profiling them called Building Michiana.
We begin with a truly unique South Bend company that's more than just "child's play."
You'd never know by his denim shirt and blue jeans that Mike Lindburg was once a lawyer and owner of a computer software company. But since 2013, his office has been this small, dusty woodshop on South Bend's near west side.
"A number of years ago, when my granddaughter was about 2, I actually made a stepstool, a little, yellow duck stepstool with a bright orange beak," Lindburg said.
That was the beginning of what would become South Bend Woodworks.
"When we turn out a product, we try to turn out a high-quality product that people are proud to give as presents or receive and it will last a long time, and I think we've been pretty successful so far," Lindburg said.
And business has been booming. South Bend Woodworks ships out about 14,000 wood products a year, the most popular being the children's name puzzle.
"We make custom-made puzzles to order, so if somebody wants to call up and, for example, order a Terry or a Michael or a Charlotte, we make those and send them out in two or three days," Lindburg said. "And some of them are painted and some of them are hardwoods like walnut, maple and cherry. Some have painted bases, some of them have pegs. Last year, we shipped out about 12,000."
Beyond children's toys, including that famous yellow duck stool, South Bend Woodworks sells a variety of products for fans of the University of Notre Dame, Indiana University and Purdue University.
"Notre Dame fans in particular are avid fans, and so my opinion is no home is complete without an interlocking ND wall hanging or a leprechaun and, by the way, if you need a 3-foot leprechaun, come see us," Lindburg said with a laugh.
He says South Bend Woodworks is not only building memories with its heirloom quality products but also helping rebuild lives.
"We've been really fortunate to get a really solid group of employees, they tend to stay," Lindburg said. "We partner with Goodwill as part of their employment program for second-chance people.
"That's an important part of this, Terry. You know, we all have a story – me, everybody – and so the idea is give people a chance and, by and large most of the time, they take advantage of it, and that's what they can do here at South Bend Woodworks."
Lindburg says their products range in price from $20 to $400, although the majority of what they sell is in the $20 to $50 range.
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