Stevens Industries has done an impressive job of building its business since it started as a small wood shop in Teutopolis, Illinois, in the 1950s.

From humble beginnings as a residential cabinet supplier, Stevens has grown to become the largest manufacturer of commercial casework and architectural millwork in the United States. It also recognized a tactical opportunity in 1979 and became one of the United States’ first producers of thermally fused laminate, then known as melamine.

While Stevens remains smart and aggressive in pursuing new opportunities in its core area of manufacturing casework for education and health care, it has seen a twist in the last few years. Business is coming to Stevens in increasing amounts from companies seeking strategic manufacturing partners, including many that previously looked overseas for help.

“In many instances, we don’t know the full backstory as to why they sought us,” said Todd Wegman, president of Stevens. “We just know there are more opportunities now, and they would have been talking to overseas manufacturers in the past.”

Without a doubt, Stevens’ versatility and reputation as a quality casework manufacturer and supplier of
increasingly innovative TFL panels have played key roles in attracting the new business, which began showing up several years ago but continues to ramp up significantly, Wegman said.

“In many cases, it’s been positive word of mouth. They called us.”

The recent surge is the latest chapter in a story that began when Charles “Chuck” Stevens moved from Chicago to Teutopolis in 1956 and started making wood products in his father-in-law’s two-car garage. The company quickly established a reputation for its high-quality and forward-thinking kitchens, but Stevens recognized the potential of commercial work in the 1960s and began producing furniture, cabinets and equipme