ALLENSVILLE - While a majority of the housing and building industry took a severe downturn after the recession hit in 2008, Allensville Planing Mill has remained a staple of Mifflin County, continuing to provide manufacturing and retail services.
"We were able to survive the recession by increasing our focus on niche project markets," said Donita Rudy, CEO of APM. "While we began to target the do-it-yourself group in our retail stores, we were able to maintain manufacturing numbers by increasing work in the agriculture industry."
Before the recession, 20 percent of APM's manufacturing projects were commissioned by people or companies in the agriculture industry, Rudy said. As the building industry began to suffer, APM diversified to appeal more to agricultural projects.
Sentinel photo by BUFFIE BOYER
A group of Allensville Planning Mill employees construct a roof truss during their work shift.
"Our work for the agriculture community was received well because we provide a whole package service," Rudy said. "Each order was, and is, a complete full service project. We handle everything from design, to delivery and setup."
APM specializes in super hutches, barns, chicken coops, calf and cattle shelters, free stalls and run in shelters. Though the majority of work comes from the Pennsylvania area, Rudy said, projects are also ordered from Maryland, New Jersey and Virginia.
"We made it through those tough times and have begun to bounce back," Rudy said. "We've had a 35 percent growth in truss manufacturing this year and a several thousand percent growth in panels. Depending on the season, we have anywhere from 100 to 140 people working the mill."
APM also plans to continue with the do-it-yourself appeal in the True Value retail stores as it moves forward, Rudy said. DIY workshops, developed during the recession, have become permanent events in stores as have the online videos for DIY projects on the company's website and Facebook.
"We have developed a great female following with the workshops," Rudy said. "Women are more comfortable learning skills in a peer-to-peer environment. We like to have ladies' nights during hunting season and home improvement workshops in the summer."
APM also tries to hire retail associates with experience in construction or home improvement so customers have someone knowledgeable to discuss projects with, Rudy said.
The most recent development in customer service, however, is the addition of a Mifflin County Savings Bank branch to the Allensville True Value location. The bank plans to hold a soft opening in November and a joint grand opening event with True Value in December.
"The idea of opening a bank branch was presented to us about a year and a half ago when the one across the street closed," Rudy said. "There's a large community need for local banking services, especially for the Amish community. People are traveling as far as Reedsville or Huntingdon right now."
The new Mifflin County Savings Bank branch features an outdoor ATM with full teller service inside. Though customers will have to walk through the True Value store to access the bank, the two entities have no relation.
"Though the bank is located in our store, it's strictly a tenant," Rudy said. "The model is similar to grocery stores or supermarkets that have banks for customer convenience. It's just another way to serve our community."
For more information about the Allensville Planing Mill, visit www.apm-inc.net or the Allensville True Value Facebook page. The True Value retail stores are located in Allensville, Lewistown and Huntingdon.