At Schoenbauer Furniture Service, It’s All in the Family
Featured in: The Ledger, Small Business, 2000
Bill Schoenbauer’s family has been in the business of restoring furniture for a long, long time. He represents the fourth generation of Schoenbauers to work in furniture restoration.
“My great-grandfather was a cabinet builder who came over to the states and got into the furniture restoration business,” Schoenbauer stated recently. “Slowly that evolved into claims handling business. A lot of what we do is generated through insurance companies, moving and storage companies, repairing transit damage.”
Schoenbauer apprenticed with his father, F.W. Schoenbauer, on a time-release program while a student at Chopticon High School. Following 13 years with his dad, the younger Schoenbauer started out on his own with Schoenbauer Furniture Service.
“My dad got me started,” he stated. “He turned over one of his accounts to me. Now 50 percent of what we do is generated through the moving and storage industry.”
Schoenbauer added that their business is easing its way into the home-owners insurance damage – fire and water damage claims. The rest of his business is made up of private individuals – antique restoration and a lot of “on-site” work which Schoenbauer conducts both commercially and residentially. This offshoot of his business offers a unique feature, where Schoenbauer or his employees will go right into the business or home to touch up and repair damaged pieces.
“I always knew this was what I wanted to do,” he says. “I’d been around it as a child, the smell [of the finishes] and watching my dad work in the garage…after working with him for 13 years I was ready for some new responsibilities and a challenge.”
Schoenbauer realized pretty quickly that he couldn’t do what he wanted to do by himself. “I really owe a debt of gratitude to my wife, Debbie,” he said. “She’s really helped a lot with the business. Without her, I wouldn’t have gotten this far.”
Schoenbauer Furniture Service started out as a home-based business and grew to a warehouse in Waldorf. At that point, his business office was still located in his home in northern St. Mary’s County while the actual business was 20 miles away.
“We knew that the warehouse based in Waldorf was going to be a temporary arrangement, but there was nothing available in the northern St. Mary’s County area at that time,” he noted.
Since then, the business has relocated to a warehouse behind True Value in Charlotte Hall, and has grown from Bill’s one-man show to 10 employees, including his brother and one nephew, proving that for Schoenbauer Furniture Service, the business truly runs in the family.