Just south of the corner of U.S. Highway 20 and State Road 5 in Shipshewana is Alpha Building Center. Most people know the business as a lumberyard that carries quality wood. However, what fewer people realize is that Alpha is a one-stop-shop for almost any home or property improvement project.
“We’re a lot more than a lumberyard,” explains General Manager Kyle Ulrich. “That is our primary good that we sell, but we also sell an entire experience.”
Alpha Building Center got its start in 1985. Henry Hershberger, a born-and-bred local, started it as a business for doors, windows and siding.
“It was kind of a father-son team,” Ulrich says. “In the early years they worked out of a barn and had one pickup truck doing deliveries.”
The business quickly expanded its products and services to include hardware, EtchWood and trusses, according to customer needs. As their product lines and reputation grew, they started looking to other towns, eventually opening two other locations in Nappanee and in Michigan.
At their Shipshewana storefront, they have several different departments to help fulfill every improvement project need, from exteriors like garage door installation, trim and roofing – both tin and shingle – to fencing, additions and interior projects. This includes replacing hardwood floors, painting walls, updating plumbing, modernizing sinks, showers or toilets, improving lighting, and more.
Some of their most popular services are handled through their vinyl division. Not only can they manage the finer details of exterior home improvement like decks, railings, shutters and the like, but they can also get custom independent structures like pergolas or garden arbors.
Experts in the vinyl department can custom design these projects in-house. After the materials are built, they are shipped and assembled on-site. That goes for even larger, more complicated projects like decks.
“We would definitely be able to estimate the material needs and gather all the elements,” Ulrich says. “We’d even have a plan that would show how to assemble that deck.”
They also have an installation crew that can assemble decks on location.
Of course they still offer doors, windows and siding. They even offer a project planning service. Customers can begin a basic plan on Alpha’s website before speaking to a specialist. However, it’s best to schedule an appointment with their design experts to fully visualize and estimate the cost of the project before it begins.
“We can also do 3D rendering, so they can get a good idea of what the house will look like ahead of time,” Ulrich says. “From there, it trickles down to the rest of our departments. They can go into the retail center and choose siding and roofing colors. Our vinyl decking division will help them out with building their deck. Our metal division will help them with the metal siding, trim, and things they would want to put on their house. Even the woodworking division can refer customers to cabinet makers to help them build their kitchen.”
For those who live in rural settings, Alpha has supplies and materials necessary for barns, commercial agriculture buildings, fencing and more.
“As far as building a pole barn or anything like that, we have everything that you need,” Ulrich says.
This includes trusses, metal siding and insulation.
From the moment a customer starts with Alpha, the experts in the different divisions are interested in making it the best experience possible. Part of the way they do this is by working with the contractor as well as the homeowner.
“We want to make sure that everyone’s on the same page,” Ulrich says. “We’re not leaving anything out, and we’re not forgetting anything. We want to do everything right the first time and make sure the customer’s going to be happy with it, even 50 years from now.”
Even DIYers can find what they need at Alpha Building Center.
“In the community that we’re in, many people are DIY-focused,” Ulrich says. “It would be nothing for a homeowner to tackle an entire barn project on their own. We deal with DIY homeowners and contractors alike.”
Contractors, business owners and hobbyists all appreciate the services and products at Alpha. One of their most popular departments is the woodworking supply department at the Shipshewana location, servicing a 50-mile radius.
“It services local cabinet furniture makers,” Ulrich says. “We have three trucks running four days a week. It’s kind of like a milk route. It’s preordered items and we also sell items directly off the truck.”
Alpha provides almost all the supplies necessary for woodworkers, including sandpaper, screws, nails, wood fillers and tools, delivered right to their door.
Another service they offer that contractors and DIYers appreciate is the tool repair division.
“The tool repair division repairs any kind of tool you could ever think of,” Ulrich says.
When all is said and done, the Alpha Building Center staff members are focused on providing building materials for customer needs, but also interested in building up their community.
“We thrive and survive on our services we provide for our customers and being a community-based organization,” Ulrich says. “That’s what we pride ourselves on – taking care of those customers. Even though we have grown to be a very large company for Shipshewana, we have small roots.”
Explore all Alpha Building Center has to offer online at alphabuildingcenter.com, or visit in person in Shipshewana at 0855 North State Road 5. Call them at 260-768-4410.
In Nappanee, visit them at 8720 West 1350 North. Call them at 574-773-7787.
They are also located in Michigan at 26250 State Road 86 in Sturgis. Call them at 269-467-4800.
All locations are open Mon. through Fri. 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sat. 7 p.m. to 12 p.m.