Dresden & Company expands, brings crafts and tourism back to community – Y-City News
A local business recently celebrated the grand opening of its newest building and local leaders and community members gathered to join in the festivities.
Dresden & Company, one of the county’s fastest growing local businesses, has opened another location in Dresden Village, a showcase designed to attract visitors from across the country, showcasing all of the many domestically made products available for purchase through its network of owners.
Co-founder Jim Lepi says their business and its new site continue to contribute to their mission to restore the small village community to its roots in basket weaving.
On Thursday, October 14, a crowd joined in front of the 416 Main Street storefront, adjacent to the world’s largest shopping cart.
Zanesville-Muskingum County Chamber of Commerce President Dana Matz gave a short speech, which included a brief history of Dresden and its heritage, and welcomed everyone to the celebration.
Many elected officials, including Representative Adam Holmes, Dresden Mayor Gregory Morrison and Dresden City Councilor Larry King, spoke of the great entrepreneurial spirit and dedication to the community that Dresden & Company has shown over its few years. years of activity.
Holmes explained that Lepi never gave up on the small community, Morrison wished them luck with their future endeavours, and King explained how the startup became the village’s second-largest employer.
Lepi said the company has always been focused on delivering a top quality product and supporting its employees as well as the local community. He thanked everyone for their support and gave insight into the company’s exponential growth.
“We hope to quickly outgrow this space,” Lepi said graciously. “Everyone here has been an essential part of our team.”
Instead of the traditional ribbon, a long piece of basket fabric has been cut as part of the large opening.
According to Lepi, while the company has had to adapt due to the pandemic, it continues to weave baskets in Dresden and works on truly initiatory projects.
One, which Lepi said he couldn’t divulge much, involves them making hoops for a big movie. Much like when Conn’s Potato Chips received national exposure when it was featured in an Oscar-winning 1980s film, the placement will once again put a local Muskingum County business on the national map.
Another product currently in development and production is a Christmas stocking basket. Lepi thinks it should reasonably last for generations and would make a great item to pass down through the family.
“It’s one of the most beautiful baskets we’ve ever made,” Lepi said with a passionate smile.
The co-founder said what excites him most is the future, which he says requires them to be innovative.
“I know more than anything that our future depends, more than anything else, on innovation. New products that have never been made before and are not made in China or Indonesia and are shipped here,” Lepi said. “We need unique products that we can build here in Dresden and be first to market so that we cannot be compared to cheaper foreign products. We know that and so far people have embraced Made in America brands.
Not only is Dresden & Company a local employer that sources almost all of its products nationally, but when the pandemic first hit they came together and created over 4,000 face shields for local healthcare workers. when protective clothing could not be purchased elsewhere.
“The disease made us all feel helpless,” recalls Lepi. “It was our way of helping.”
Although the past two years have not been easy for the start-up, Lepi said, they still have everyone who started with them. Sacrifices had to be made, Lepi added, but noted that everyone still comes every day with so much enthusiasm and passion.
Lepi himself has been called a hero and role model by many. Growing up just north of Dresden, he married his wife of many years, Bobbi, and in the early 80s founded a real estate agency. Lepi & Associates Real Estate Services, now owned and operated by his wife, has grown into the region’s largest business. In the late 1980s, together with his brothers, he created an environmental services company, Lepi Enterprises.
He received the Distinguished Graduate Award from local schools in Tri-Valley, where he also worked for a few years as a building and grounds supervisor, Lepi spent six years on the Dresden village council, he helped to form the Dresden Village Association, served as chairman of both the board of the Muskingum County Community Foundation and the Building Environment Council of Ohio as well as numerous other honors.
His assistance in the resurgence of economic life in Dresden after the collapse of Longaberger, both by Dresden & Company and his other businesses, won him much praise and admiration.
For Lepi though, he doesn’t see himself as a hero. Humbly, when asked what it meant to him to be seen as a hero and a role model, he just shook his head slightly from side to side, visibly taken aback by the recognition.
“I don’t know if it’s really well placed, I think there are a lot of heroes in Dresden,” Lepi said. “I don’t see myself as such. When I think of a hero, I think of firefighters and paramedics and I know the sacrifices they make, their boots at the bottom of their beds every night for years and they get very little thanks. Police officers are the same, they give so much and get so little in return.
Lepi says he thinks Dresden & Company should be ten times its current size and they have big goals for the future. The new center at 416 Main Street will be a tourist destination, capable of accommodating visitor buses. Meals for these tourists can be prepared in the new location and it will be a kind of visitor center as they explore the village.
“This is happening so far despite the pandemic,” Lepi said. “People are planning tours so we have buses coming in and that has always been our focus and that will be directly linked to our growth.”
As they grow, they gain access to available space in Dresden, reducing the number of storefronts and vacant buildings while beautifying the quaint little village.