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Local

A cut above the rest

A Fulton business is building on its past successes as it looks toward a bigger and better future on the Horizon

FULTON – There’s a sales pitch that’s as true in woodworking as it is in baseball: If you build it, they will come – and for more than 25 years, customers have been coming to a Fulton wood shop to have their projects built.

Riverside Custom Woodworking specializes in projects big and small, from a piece of furniture to a kitchen full of cabinets. Now it’s working on building something else: a bigger customer base, thanks to a new partnership.

Founder Mark Ivers started the business in 1993. When he died in 2011, his wife took over operations for a couple years. For the past 12 years, Rock Falls native Scott Wohlstadter, 55, has been heading up the operation.

Ivers used to do the whole nine yards: building, delivery, and installation. Now, Riverside’s primary focus is on building.

“Nowadays, we mainly design, build, deliver, and then suggest local contractors that are more familiar with installation,” Wohlstadter said. “We are not licensed for electrical, plumbing, flooring work, [or other services].”

That’s where its new partnership can help out.

Riverside recently joined the Horizon Group Inc. in Davenport, Iowa, a 100% employee-owned team of more than 50 people that connects commercial clients with local contractors and builders.

“We want to continue serving residential customers in the community, but add on commercial customers like hospitals, clients, and others,” Wohlstadter said.

Wohlstadter’s crew prides itself on taking the ideas customers dream up and making them a reality, crafting custom projects and then connecting clients with contractors who will wrap things up.

Riverside’s primary business is mostly kitchen and bathroom cabinets, but the team welcomes customer requests, no matter what they may be – as long as they are wood-related.

“Every once in a while, someone will come in with an odd wood project, and we’ve always managed to do it,” Wohlstadter said.

In fact, some of those customer requests have become areas of expertise for the staff – bookshelves, mantels, and spiral staircases, to name a few.

Some customers come to Riverside with a more precises vision than others, but regardless of the level of detail, the shop’s staff can work with whatever their clients bring them.

Customer Dale Thayer said he designed his kitchen layout and “Scott did an excellent job suggesting a few minor changes and preparing final plans. Vern did a great job building the cabinets. My experience with Riverside Custom Woodworking has been extremely good through the entire process.”

Others echoed that praise for their projects. Dan and Kathy Montgomery said, “Scott worked closely with us and gave us everything we asked for. The quality of our cabinets is awesome.” Andy Wickett said Riverside made “our dream kitchen come true. We could not have asked for a better group to work with.”

What sets Riverside’s work apart from big-box box builders is that “we produce everything ourselves,” Wohlstadter said.

“We don’t use any hot glue, particle board,” or any other cheap supplies. “We use real wood. We’re basically building a custom box. There’s no comparison to what you’re finding out on the market, and we do it for a reasonable price.”

Wohlstadter’s woodworking journey began when he was growing up in Rock Falls. “My folks owned the old A&W in town (in the 1400 block of West U.S. Route 30, which later became an LA Tan and is now up for sale). For the past 20-plus years, I’ve been doing primarily kitchen and bathroom design.”

His specialty is in sales and design – he leaves the custom craftwork to his crew.

In the coming year, Wohlstadter hopes to utilize Riverside’s new relationship with Horizon to expand the types of products he can offer clients, as well as dipping into new areas of Illinois, such as Sterling, Rock Falls, the Quad Cities, and the Chicago suburbs.

“We’re always looking for new markets, and we’ve got some new contacts around the state,” Wohlstadter said – and if the past is any indication of the shop’s future, then Riverside Custom Woodworking shouldn’t have any problem getting more customers on board.

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