Jay and Connie Schrock always believed in the concept of “keeping it local.”
In 1973, Woodwork Manufacturing was sold to new owners, and by 1982, after 22 years as an employee, Jay found himself frustrated and ready for a new career. Instead of moving on, the Schrocks seized a chance to purchase the company, which today continues its nationwide operations out of Hutchinson.
“Jay was always more concerned about it being local,” Connie said.
It was the local community that helped guide them through the early years of Woodwork Manufacturing, offering sound advice to the young business owners. And it was the local community that had faith in the Schrocks and helped grow the company, even through economic struggles that forced others to leave town or close.
There were years they couldn’t afford a sitter for their children and moments they questioned how they’d keep the company afloat. Despite some offers by outside firms, the Schrocks remained committed to Hutchinson and Reno County.
“We made a promise then that if we got through this, we’d do what we could to help people,” Jay said.
Just as other business leaders helped them through lean times, the Schrocks have seen how local business ownership ripples out to others.
“Over the years, a lot of big companies tried to buy us out,” Jay said. “There used to be a lot of mom-and-pop operations, and as they retired, they sold to corporations. The first thing that happens, it takes away from the city. Local banking, insurance – that all goes elsewhere. Small business is the heart of a town.”
The Schrocks’ commitment to their community has led them to become Hutchinson Community Foundation Legacy Society members and to serve on multiple boards and support organizations: the United Way of Reno County, the Cosmosphere, the Historic Fox Theatre, the American Red Cross, Mennonite Friendship Communities, and the Cancer Council of Reno County.
Now, as another generation takes over the operation, the Schrocks find satisfaction in the promise of Hutchinson’s future as well as the company and family legacy, which was from seeds of local commitment sown many years ago.
“Our passion has always been to keep the company local,” Connie said. “It’s a community to be proud of.”