Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Indiana-Based Wine Rack Maker Flourishes
My latest newspaper column:
A growing appreciation for wine usually means buying more wine, drinking more wine, and sooner or later needing a place to put all that bottled goodness.
Wine storage systems and wine racks are everywhere with plenty of choices for wine consumers. Finding racks that hold more than a dozen bottles, though, can be a bit of a challenge in Indiana.
Radel Wood Products, Peru, IN., is a commercial wine rack production company that will still build a custom rack for any consumer. Radel’s products are in more than 40 states across the U.S.
“We’re mostly a commercial business but we’ll build a rack for the individual,” said Gerald Radel, a former newspaper pressman. “We do tasting rooms for wineries, custom tasting tables, products for wholesalers, but wine racks are our primary business.”
Radel was in the newspaper industry for years and after a couple of job moves decided to return to Peru to get into wood milling and custom work. When nearby Grissom Air Force Base closed its doors the enormous hangers became warehouses. Cost Plus World Market rented one of the former hangers to use as a distribution center.
When one of Radel’s friends saw wine racks in storage at the Peru base, they bid on building the 44-bottle racks and got the contract. Even with the ups and downs of the economy, Cost Plus remains Radel’s biggest customer. During a July visit, Radel and his six employees were busy finishing an order for 600 of the 44-bottle racks.
He started building wine racks in 1999 in his garage. He’s grown the business and operates now from a building on the west side of Peru on Highway 24.
“We’ve been doing wine trade shows the last five or six years with the last three years really starting to pay off,” Radel said. “Most of our business is in the eastern part of the United States. I have two big customers in Florida.”
He is getting ready to build racks for a tasting room in St. Joseph, Michigan. Earlier this year he worked a trade show at Grand Rapids.
His goal is to keep coming up with new ideas and ideas for custom racks. Though he has built doors for home contractors and even kitchen cabinets, wine racks are now his primary business. He builds racks in Pine, Alder Wood, and Oak in all shapes and sizes.
The wine woodworker became a wine drinker as his business expanded. “I like wine,” he said with a laugh. “I didn’t drink a lot of wine until I got into this business but you have a tendency to accumulate a lot of wine. We like to visit wineries when we travel and you usually can’t leave without buying a couple bottles, maybe more if they’re a customer.”
He said Riesling was probably his favorite. Obviously, he doesn’t have any storage issues.
His products can be seen and priced on his website
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