When Steve Aldridge and his wife Carolyn started their business Sta-Care in 1978, they began small, with Steve working full time in the 1,200-sq.-ft. laminate shop and Carolyn keeping an outside job and working at the company when she could. Little did they know the business would grow into what it is today — a company that fabricates and manufactures three distinctive countertop products with over 100,000 sq. ft. of facilities in three towns handling work in six states.
How did Sta-Care get from there to where it is now? There are a variety of factors, among which was inventiveness and building on a model that works.
About five months after the company opened its doors, it was doing enough work to bring Carolyn on full time, and three additional full-time workers were added that year. The company did very well, and in 1983 moved into its present location on Albert Street in Portage, Wis.
The company expanded again in 1988, opening a laminate cutting station in Pana, Ill., which is in the lower half of the state. From its location in Wisconsin it could reach key populations in Minneapolis, Iowa and northern Illinois. With the Pana facility it could extend its influence even further into southern Illinois, St. Louis and the Indianapolis markets.
Initially the company started as a laminate countertop cutting station, buying countertop blanks and customizing them for individual kitchens. The company continued to grow, and by 1990 purchased its first postforming line, becoming a manufacturer of postform tops. A second line followed four years later.
Having mastered the laminate business, in 1996 the company turned its attention to solid surface. But, unlike other solid surface operations, Steve had a different idea — to build from the company's existing laminate model to offer a solid surface product that would fill the gap between laminate and traditional 1⁄2-in. solid surface.
Sta-Care built a facility in Pardeeville, Wis., and concentrated for a couple of years on creating a solid surface/laminate hybrid — a sort of solid surface veneer. As the concept started taking shape, the decision was made to formulate its own solid surface material.
The company began batch mixing and pouring solid surface, which it deemed Visioneer. And now, 10 years later, the product is still going strong.
The company now has approximately 130 employees, among which are Steve's son Travis, executive vice president, who heads up solid surface, maintenance, and engineering, and his brother John Aldridge, vice president of sales and marketing, who manages sales. The main plant and corporate offices are in Portage, Wis., and cover 56,000 sq. ft. The plant in Pardeeville, Wis., which handles all of the solid surface manufacturing and fabricating, is about 31,000 sq. ft., and the laminate cutting station in Pana is another 15,000 sq. ft.