Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
FAIRFIELD — Bovard Studio is just days away from completing a major expansion into a new building on its property east of Fairfield.
The business creates and restores stained glass windows and frames, and demand for its products had grown so high that the owners had to add space, machines and employees to keep pace.
The company built a 12,000-square-foot building next to its existing buildings on the campus, bringing the total space occupied by offices and manufacturing to 62,000 square feet. Burt Chojnowski, president of Bovard Studio, said the new building is mostly done and should be finished in a couple of weeks once the bathrooms are installed.
To celebrate this major expansion, the company is inviting the public to an open house from 5-7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 15.
This project came together quickly.
Chojnowski appeared before the Jefferson County Supervisors earlier this spring to announce the business’s intent to expand, and to propose a development agreement with the county whereby a portion of the business’s county property taxes owed from the new building would be reimbursed to Bovard for three years.
The supervisors agreed to the plan, and in May, hired a law firm to iron out the details. It also prompted the supervisors to create a program so that future businesses could take advantage of similar development agreements.
Construction on the project began over the summer, and expected the expansion to cost about $900,000.
Chojnowski said the company’s sales have more than doubled this year, which means they’re booking projects more than a year in advance.
“The demand for our products is high, and we needed to figure out ways to build more frames faster,” Chojnowski said.
The company added not just more space but also new equipment such as new saws and frame-bending equipment. It also just finished installing a paint booth to paint its frames. Ron Bovard, founder and CEO of the company, said the paint booth is “state of the art.”
Chojnowski said the paint booth allows the company to paint its frames many different colors, and the booth has a furnace that warms the frames to 150 degrees so they dry quickly as opposed to having to air dry for days.
Bovard said the company has a patented venting system on its frames that preserve the life of the stained glass windows.
“We fill orders for churches, libraries and courthouses, so these are not just regular window frames but are often ornate and extremely large,” Bovard said, adding that the frames meet the highest standards to withstand hurricane winds.
Chojnowski said in the spring that the business would add six to 12 employees with the expansion, and remarked this week that it’s still trying to fill four or five slots in departments such as its field crew, frame shop and warehouse.
To attract new workers, the business has started a four-year apprenticeship program where employees earn a wage while also taking classes to become experts in stained glass. Chojnowski said three people are enrolled in the program, and the business wants to add one or two positions each year to ensure a talented and skilled workforce.