The story of Zeeland Architectural Components

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Melvin Boonstra loved to sell. And like the machines he later used, his business life also had many twists and turns.

He was born in 1916 in Munster, Indiana, the son of first-generation Dutch immigrants who owned a sauerkraut factory. In the same year, William Edding founded Zeeland Wood Turning Works (ZWTW), a company in Zeeland that shaped wood for table and chair legs, spindles, and decorative furniture by rotating it against a sharp tool. .

Edding’s contemporaries included Michigan Star Furniture (later Herman Miller), Colonial Clock Company, and Zeeland Ornamental Company (later Royal Casket Company). In Grand Rapids, his clients may have included Berkey & Gay, Sly, Stickley, and Widdicombe-Mueller.

But it wasn’t the furniture industry that brought Melvin to Zeeland. She returned to Münster in 1939, Melvin married, and to support her family she opened a small chicken and egg store. Soon Melvin had her two stores and decided to wholesale her poultry to continue to grow her business.

His business then took him to Zeeland, the poultry farming capital of the world. When he got there, he decided he liked the town and wondered if he could have his relatives run a store in Indiana. His plan was to drive a large batch of chickens to Indiana on Friday night, and then on Saturday to help sell, dress, and package the chickens for customers’ Sunday meals. But things didn’t work out that way.

In 1947 he sold his poultry and egg business in Münster and moved his family to Zeeland. So he purchased Home Fuel and Supply Co., a coal distributor located near the corner of Elm Street and Washington Street, where DeBruyn Seed is now located.

When he foresaw that natural gas would replace coal as a home heating fuel source, he sold his coal business and in 1950 bought Gerrit Van Tameren’s share in the Trend Clock Company. As a sales manager, he approached furniture stores and hired designers. One of his suppliers of Trend Clock was ZWTW.

Affable and intelligent, Melvin was elected to the Zeeland City Council and became president of the Zeeland Chamber of Commerce in 1954. But his desire to own his own business never left him.

Melvin got a second chance because of the tragedy. ZWTW owner Bill Edding and operations manager Jim Hawthorne were killed in separate vehicle accidents. As a result, ZWTW lost 80% of its customers. In 1962, Melvin acquired his ZWTW with the help of bankers and silent investors.

By the time he was again elected president of the Zeeland Chamber of Commerce in 1964, ZWTW had regained its lost business.

ZWTW is always a family affair. In 1954, Jay Schutte joined ZWTW. His son Roger joined in his 1963 and his grandson Stephen joined in his 1984. In 2006, Roger turned the mold by hand, his father set up the “cutter head” and his son did the woodworking and delivered the product. Finished product. Then, in 2008, Stephen’s son, Dalton, joined his ZWTW.

Meanwhile, Melvin has been busy. One of his pleasures was Calvin participating in his college’s business fundraisers. He loved doing it so much that he also raised money for Hope College.

Melvin’s son, Keith, joined ZWTW in 1962, rejoined Melvin in 1972, and by 1985 had bought the business. Gradually, Keith steered the business into a building factory. “The weird thing is, we didn’t see the end of the furniture industry, but we wanted to do something more with the expertise we had,” says Keith. .

ZWTW’s big break came in 1989 when it received a contract to mill lumber for the Michigan State Capitol.

Then someone said, “If you work in architectural components, why do you call yourself ZWTW?” Since then, ZWTW has done business as Zeeland Architectural Components.

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By 2006, 75% of ZAC’s business was customized building factories. In addition to sawing lumber for the Michigan State Capitol, ZAC has sawn lumber for Holland City Hall, Zeeland Library, Holland Hospital, Virginia State Capitol, Gerald R. Ford International Airport, U.S. Capitol, Little Caesars Arena, and Michigan Central Station . (Corktown) — in addition to various casinos, churches, and the University of Notre Dame.

Currently, 85% of ZAC’s business is customized building factories.

Melvin rode his collector car in Zeeland parades for several years. He passed away in 2016.

Information for this article comes from conversations with Keith Boonstra in 2008 and 2023 and “Trend Klock vs. Sly Klock.”

— Steve VanderVeen lives in the Netherlands. His book “The First Entrepreneurs of the Dutch Region” will be published can contact him

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