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Interior Design Concepts sees increase in sales during COVID-19
Story by Trent Abrego
In January, Jill Fonder became the owner of Interior Design Concepts after purchasing the business from Dave Arlt, who still works at the business as a full-time designer. 

Three months later, in March, COVID-19 spread to the United States, with shutdowns shortly following.  

Fonder was worried that her newly purchased business would get hit hard.

“It was kind of scary for me,” Fonder said. “I’ve got some big loans. I’ve got big payments, and it’s like, ‘If this I can’t make the wave, I didn’t know what was going to happen.’” 

However, unlike most businesses who have seen a downward trend in sales through COVID-19, that hasn’t been the case for Fonder and Interior Design Concepts.

“I think everybody sat in their house when the lockdown first came, and everybody was off work, working from home,” Fonder said. “They’re sitting there looking at the four walls going, ‘Wow, what can we do?’ and ‘We should do this.’”

In all, Fonder has reported a 35% increase in sales from April to September when compared to the same five-month period in 2019. 

“I’ve been more than happy with the way it’s turned out. I just keep hoping that we keep coasting” Fonder said. “If we can just keep doing what we’re doing, I think we can get through it.”
Today’s trends
To keep in touch with the latest industry trends, Fonder keeps her eye on both local and national trends.

“What’s being done in the Midwest or in our area is a little different, because we tend to be about five years behind what the national areas are doing,” Fonder said. “So, I try to watch the national (trends) and make sure we’re on top of things as to what I’m introducing and bringing in as samples and items.”
One of the trends that Fonder emphasized is the use of white oak material in kitchens, especially in cabinets and, every so often, flooring. Fonder also noted a recent lack of demand for carpet.

“Bedrooms (are) probably the only place we’re seeing carpet,” Fonder said. “Most people are doing hard surfaces throughout.”

While there has been a resurgence in hard surface flooring, that doesn’t necessarily mean the demand for hardwood flooring has increased. Instead, there has been a trend of installing luxury vinyl planks, which are more durable. 

“I mean, two years ago, we probably had one rack of an LVP (luxury vinyl plank) of wood look. Now, we’ve got six racks, because that’s what people want and we’ve got to show it,” Fonder said. “However, we still have at least four or five racks. It’s still a classic great. It increases the value of your home by doing hardwood.” 
More about the business
Interior Design Concepts used to be located at 523 S. Main St., but has now moved to 21 N. Main St. The business had its grand opening at the new showroom in October 2019.

“I got to be, right from the start, involved in the whole process. (Arlt) asked my advice or my input or everything, knowing that this was going to be mine,” Fonder said. … We worked on the building for almost a year.”
While Interior Design Concepts might be initially thought of as a consultant for interior design, it offers much more than just that.  

Interior Design Concepts runs the “whole gamut” of home decor. The company’s inventory includes cabinets, floor coverings, window treatments, paint, furniture, light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, countertops and wallpaper. 

Interior Design Concepts serves customers within about a 100-mile radius of Aberdeen, according to Fonder.

“I’ve worked with a lot of customers from (places) like Faulkton or Miller. We grab a bunch of samples, go out there, show them, pick stuff out and they only maybe come in the store once or twice,” Fonder said. “They don’t need to be in here, so that’s an advantage with our type of business.” 

Twin City Fan assisting
in vaccination efforts
Story by Trent Abrego
As part of Operation Warp Speed, an initiative to accelerate the development, manufacturing and distribution of a vaccine for COVID-19, Twin City Fan has been filling an increase in orders.

In Aberdeen, the company has been busy working on the production of QSL Mixed Flow Fans.

Normally, fans are produced within four weeks — but that process has been sped up, according to Twin City Fan commercial sales leader Jason Meinke.
Once the manufacturing process is completed, the fans are then shipped nearly a thousand miles away to Bloomington, Ind.

In Indiana, Moderna and Catalent signed an agreement for a large-scale COVID-19 vaccine development and are working toward the finished product. The two companies are also in discussion to secure fill-finish capacity for continued production of hundreds of millions of additional doses, according to a news release.

“They’ve basically decided that they’re going to convert these warehouses to this lab and manufacture space,” Meinke said.

Orders for the fans aren’t slowing down anytime soon either.
“It seems that their project kind of has been expanding, while we’ve been building and supplying,” Jason Meinke said.

Currently, Meinke estimates that there are roughly 30 fans that have either been ordered or already sent to the facility in Bloomington, Ind.

“When this (project) came through we notified them ‘Hey, this is for vaccine production for COVID.’ Everybody’s just excited,” Trinity Persful, vice president of marketing said. “It’s kind of cool to work on something that’s bigger than yourself. Here we have people in Aberdeen, South Dakota helping people all across the country, and that gets them really excited.”
NO. 28 ◼️ VOL. 1 ◼️ FEB. 5, 2020