Local Company Turns Out Quality Wood ProductsPhotography Provided
For several years, word of mouth has spread about the products made at Signature Designs in Ligonier. Known for quality cabinets, desks and custom bookcases, the company recently acquired a business that constructs wood fireplaces. The fireplace cabinets are sold wholesale to distributors throughout the United States.
Owner Lee Eash opened Signature Designs almost four years ago after accumulating several years of experience. Soon after Eash had completed his schooling, a neighbor came to speak with his father. The man had a woodworking shop around the corner and specialized in constructing roll-top desks.
“The neighbor was in need of a worker,” Eash says. “I liked the work. I enjoyed creating something out of wood. That’s the reason I stayed with it. I ended up working for him for 13 years. He supported me to go out on my own. At first I only did part time until the business built up. At times we still work with each other. When one of us gets busy, we help each other out.”
Starting the business prompted Eash to move his family from Topeka to Ligonier. He and his wife of 10 years, Carolyn, were able to purchase a property that included empty outbuildings that once served as part of a cabinet business. Even though the structures had not been used for close to 12 years, they were perfect for the growing business.
“One thing I enjoy about the business is that I’m essentially working from home,” says Eash, adding that the couple has three daughters – Dena, 8, Julie, 5, and Lynette, 2. “I get to send Dena off to school every day.”
Signature Designs specializes in hand-building custom products. They have offerings for most rooms in a typical house, including cabinets for a kitchen or bath, or bookcases for a study. Eash also continues to produce desks for office rooms.
After customers describe their needs and ideas, Eash sits down and works with them to develop a plan. The company helps with design, builds the custom cabinetry or woodwork, and installs 90% of the products. Styles range from modern to farmhouse.
“I have seen changes over the years,” Eash says. “Back when I first started, all the kitchens had stained cabinets. Now there are more painted kitchens, and white is very popular. Recently, customers want a variety of two-toned cabinets. For instance, the island might be painted and the cabinets are stained, or the other way around.”
Signature Designs began building fireplaces in June after purchasing an existing business located in Topeka. The diversification is proving to be beneficial to the company. Wood cabinets are built around the glass front of an electrical insert. The surrounding hardwood is stained by hand. Fabricated logs burn behind the glass.
“Most of the hardwood we use comes from Wible Lumber in South Milford,” Eash says. “Occasionally customers supply their own wood. One time we had someone bring in wood from an old chicken barn that he had torn down. He asked us to build a jewelry box out of the wood as a keepsake.”
The company offers 18 different fireplace models. Most are classical designs, and one is modern. Each fireplace has five flame speeds with five different colors. It’s all remote controlled – the user simply pushes a button. Signature Designs sells the fireplaces wholesale to a network of buyers that includes companies in Shipshewana, North Dakota, Texas and Michigan.
“Most of the customers for our custom work come from right here in our local community, but we will go within 40 to 60 miles outside Ligonier,” Eash says. “After a couple slow months when COVID began, we have picked up again. We have been really busy the last four months. Right now we have three employees working in the business. They are my uncle and his daughter, plus an 18-year-old neighbor boy.”
Eash says most of his business thus far has been from word of mouth.
“We all strive for quality and customer satisfaction,” he adds. “We take people’s ideas and put them into the final product. I’m very thankful to live in a community where everyone helps each other out.”
Signature Designs is located at 4922 West 1100 North in Ligonier. For more info, call 260-593-0883.