Small manufacturer begins move to NRA custom lampshade manufacturer will be the newest tenant at downtown New Richmond’s WeTEC incubator building.
By: Jeff Holmquist, New Richmond News
A custom lampshade manufacturer will be the newest tenant at downtown New Richmond’s WeTEC incubator building.
Wisconsin Lighting is beginning its move from Eau Claire to New Richmond this week. The company, which is bringing 12 jobs to the local economy, hopes to be fully operational in its remodeled 10,000 square feet of space by Aug. 1.
According to owner Todd Loehr, a 1989 graduate of New Richmond High School, the move makes sense for him and his company.
“I feel like I’m coming home,” he said in an interview last week.
A resident of Stillwater, Minn., Loehr said he looks forward to a much shorter commute to work. His drive to Eau Claire is about an hour and a half.
“I can’t say that I was looking to move the company,” he said. “But the building will serve our needs, and I liked the prospect of being closer to where I live. We’re just kind of a good match for this place. It was a really easy decision.”
Loehr said he purchased Wisconsin Lighting about four years ago.
Since then, the business has been growing thanks to expanding demand for custom-made lampshades.
“It’s a real niche business,” he explained. “Instead of customers going to a store to find a lampshade, they tell us what they want and we make it. And, pricewise, we can’t be beat.”
The company keeps a supply of shade hoops of various sizes and shade material on hand to fill their orders.
Most of the company’s orders come through an Internet website, www.fenchelshades.com. Once an order comes in, Wisconsin Lighting usually takes about three days to complete the job. The finished, custom shade is then boxed up and shipped to the customer.
Loehr said when he first purchased the business, Wisconsin Lighting worked with about 15 retail stores to supply lampshades.
With the advent of custom lampshades, Loehr said, the company has a list of about 6,000 customers.
“Now we have about 15 new customers each day,” he said. “The growth is exciting, and it’s not seasonal. We see demand all year round.”
As his business grows, Loehr said he hopes to lease even more space in the WeTEC building and hire even more employees.
“I want to be the poster child for a manufacturing company that is transported into a community,” he said. “If everything goes well, our goal would be to take every square inch of space they have here.”
Loehr said he appreciates the help New Richmond has provided during the business’ transition.
“Working with the city has been awesome,” he said. “We feel very welcomed and we’re not even here yet. They made it very feasible for us to move a company this size, otherwise it couldn’t be done.”
Once the business is settled in its new space, Loehr said he will open a small retail shop onsite to serve local customers. People ordering lampshades locally will avoid shipping costs, he said, thus saving many dollars on their orders.
“The shipping can be as much or more than the actual cost of the shade,” he explained. “So it’s a phenomenal deal.”
Loehr’s parents, Vern and Julie, still live in the area. Loehr’s father has been helping with the details of the business move.