By Starrla Cray
WINSTED, MN Whether it’s delivering desks to a company in Texas or installing cubicle walls for a nearby county, there’s never a dull moment at Five Star Office Installations in Winsted.
“We haven’t had a slow time,” said owner/president Shon Gabbert of Lester Prairie, who started the company in 2002.
Five Star Office Installations has grown exponentially since it began out of Gabbert’s home. He was living in Watertown at the time, and contacted multiple office furniture companies to get installation and delivery jobs.
Gabbert soon built a reputation of trust and quality work, and found that he needed a bigger location. He constructed a pole shed in rural Howard Lake, but outgrew that, as well.
“It went from just being myself, to now we have over 30 employees,” Gabbert said.
Two years ago, Five Star began renting a small portion of a warehouse on the property of Jim Koch at K-Way Express in Winsted.
“We kept asking for more space,” Gabbert said.
Today, Five Star has 10,000 square feet at K-Way on 230th Street and it’s full.
“We’d actually like to grow a little more,” Gabbert said, indicating that if more warehouse space becomes available, they’d take it.
Being in Winsted has worked out “perfectly,” according to Gabbert. Rental prices are much more reasonable than in the Twin Cities, and the location works well for employees who live in the area.
One person who has contributed to Five Star’s success is Gabbert’s business partner, Justin Niesen of Howard Lake.
“He takes care of all the scheduling, bids, and pre-installation meetings,” Gabbert said.
Jobs are mainly in Minnesota, but Five Star also travels to other areas of the US.
“We don’t turn anything down,” Gabbert said.
Even if Five Star isn’t the lowest bidder on a project, many clients will select them for the job anyway, based on their past experience.
Gabbert attributes this to his employees’ professionalism, flexibility, and “get ‘er done” attitudes.
“Whatever the customer wants, we do,” he said.
Many clients want a “one-stop shop installation partner,” so Five Star has made that possible by not only doing installations, but receiving and delivering furniture as well.
“It’s just a good little niche,” Gabbert said. “In a good economy, everybody’s buying new furniture. In a down economy, it’s just as good.”
He explained that as businesses close, they sell their furniture at low prices, and Five Star is able to match that up with new start-up companies.
Typically, Five Star doesn’t sell furniture, but instead works with about 30 vendors to provide the product.
“Customers basically tell us what they’re looking for, and we’ll find the furniture they want,” Gabbert said.
Five Star also provides furniture storage, and is able to repair/modify chairs, desks, and other office equipment.
This time of year is especially busy, with new furniture installations for schools and colleges.
Adding to the activity are many floor-to-ceiling wall installs for county government buildings in the Twin Cities.
“People use these as partitioned offices, instead of a cubicle,” Gabbert said. “We will be doing more than 2,000 feet in the next month.”
As a side business, Gabbert also owns Five Star Commercial Services, which has been providing installation of patient lifts in hospitals and nursing homes since 2011. Gabbert said it is a small company with only a few employees, and most of his focus is on Five Star Office Installations.
“It’s definitely been a fun business,” Gabbert said.
For more information, call (320) 485-2806, email email@example.com, or follow the link to the Five Star Installations website at http://www.fivestaroi.com/.