Who Knew They Made it Here?

Cerny_MakingItSince its beginning in 1988, a Traverse City company has grown into one of the largest independent manufacturers of store fixtures and commercial casework in Michigan.

Strata Design, at 1645 Park Drive, designs, builds and installs all types of modular commercial cabinets, laminate counters, store fixtures and more for hospitals, medical offices, universities, K-12 schools, retail stores, sports locker rooms, hospitality venues and financial institutions.

“Contractors, architects and other clients across the country use our products,” explained President Tyler Cerny, a Michigan State University graduate who majored in engineering. “We do a lot of work with schools, both universities and K-12. The summer is a busy time for school projects, since classes are out. Our products are in states across the country, from New York, to Florida, to California. Pretty much coast to coast.”

Across Michigan, Strata Design products can be found at many doctors’ offices, dental clinics, Munson Medical Center, Grand Traverse Distillery, Brengman Brothers Crain Hill Vineyards, MLive newsrooms, American Waste offices and other locations.

“We take pride in our company’s craftsmanship and have earned premium grade certification by AWI (Architectural Woodwork Institute’s) quality certification program,” said Cerny. “That means our efforts meet or exceed AWI’s most exacting quality specifications and standards.”

Strata Design was founded in 1988 by Chuck Cady in a small shop near Sara Lee with a handful of employees. About 20 years ago, it moved to its present location on Park Drive where two large buildings house the company’s operations. In 2008, Cerny, who had experience in metal manufacturing, purchased the company.

From 2009 to 2013, Strata Design endured the economic troubles that plagued much of Michigan and the nation.

“In 2009, we lost about one-third of our sales,” recalled Cerny. “But that was better than the market nationally. We also had one of our major contractors go out of business. In 2010 sales were up, but our margins were so thin. We did work at cost, just to keep people working.”

In 2011 and 2012, operations were extremely tight, but for the last two years sales have been growing. Last year marked Strata Design’s best year ever, recording $3.7 million in sales. “We’re a big, little operation,” said Cerny. “Some large operations do $9 to $20 million. But a lot of them do $500,000 to $1 million.”

On a recent visit, the company had 35 different projects in various stages of production. With the recent growth, Strata Design added workers. It now has a team of about 10 designers, estimators, purchasers and engineers and 15 workers on the manufacturing floor. Cerny is the company’s one-man sales staff.

“We have really good people here,” said Cerny. “They make things happen. Several have been here for many years.” Stratadesign.com.