By Theresa Marthey
Preston County News & Journal
EVANSVILLE — What happens when a Food Network television show uses a Preston County made product? Product sales jump is what happens. Just ask Stan and Sue Jennings, co-owners of Allegheny Treenware, in Evansville, who are experiencing an increase in the sale of their measuring spoons.
They are being used by Damaris Phillips on her “Southern at Heart” show on Food Network, and they don’t know if someone gave them to her, or if she ordered them from Allegheny Treenware under an alias.
“We began to get a lot of orders for our measuring spoons the last year or so,” Sue Jennings said. “Something we usually sold about 50 sets a year, suddenly went to 600 sets per year. So we called one of the customers who ordered, and asked how they heard of us.”
“That is when we found out about Phillips using our measuring spoons on her program,” Jennings said. “She has been tagging our company on her Facebook page and her blog. It has been a great boom for our business.”
Jennings said generally on Monday mornings after Phillips’ Sunday show, they have more orders for the measuring spoons.
“We usually ship out 30 boxes of these spoons every Monday,” Jennings said. “And demand is increasing, so we are producing them as fast as we can.”
Sue and her husband Stan started Allegheny Treenware in 1990 by going to craft shows and selling their “knick-knacks” and wooden kitchen utensils.
“We noticed the kitchen utensils were the things that really sold,” Jennings said. “We had three utensils, a paddle, spoon and flipper that kept selling. So we began to concentrate on those items.”
The company began to grow “out of control” according to Sue for the first 11 years. They had 12 employees working 60 to 70 hours per week.
“We had no interest of growing any bigger and putting in another workshop, so we decided to go smaller,” Jennings said. “Around 2000, the jobs began shrinking on their own, and the demand began to lighten up.”
Allegheny Treenware now has seven employees working 40 hours per week to fill the demand for products.
“Most of what we are selling now is wholesale items from our website and some places that purchase directly from us to sell, such as Tamarack,” Jennings said. “We are fortunate in business, and in addition to selling across the United States, we also have filled orders from Europe and even Africa sometimes.”
“I think the reason we are doing so well is because we are recession-proof,” Jennings said. “We fill niches. After 9-11 people have wanted to buy American and we are an American company.”
“We are also very affordable and transportable that helps us at any given time,” Jennings finished.
Jennings said they use locally harvested wood, predominantly cherry, but also maple, walnut, birch and beech when available, and recycle nearly everything they use.
“We use the scraps of wood to heat our home and the workshop during the winter,” Jennings said. “We also use the sawdust to fertilize our blueberries or the neighbor uses it for his horses.”
Jennings attributes the company’s success to having the best guardian angels in their mothers and also being able to work together smoothly.
“Stan and I have a wonderful working relationship and enjoy each other’s company,” Jennings said. “We seldom disagree, but when we do, we work it out.”
Jennings praised her husband’s wisdom and the patience of a saint.
“He is level-headed where I want to plow right in,” Jennings said. “He steps back and listens to what I say.”
“I handle the business end of the company,” Jennings shared. “Stan is responsible for managing the employees and teaching them what to do.”
Jennings said they have a great balance together when working, solving problems and making decisions.
The shop is in operation Monday through Friday beginning at 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., and the Jennings welcome the public to tour their facility at no cost. Evenings and weekends are available by appointment by calling (304) 892-5008. For more information about Allegheny Treenware, visit their website at www.alleghenytreenware.com.