Zongkers Delivers Attention to Detail

Brothers Dan and Dennis Zongker started out with a few hundred dollars in their pockets and a dream when they founded their own custom furniture business more than 35 years ago. They had been building custom cabinetry for someone else for more than 10 years, and they knew they had more to offer to customers as well as themselves.

In a leap of faith—and with one client that later cancelled their order—Dan and Dennis started Zongkers Custom Woods, and the rest is custom furniture history. “The first two years, we both worked out of our basements while we continued to make cabinets,” said Dennis Zongker. “Eventually, we quit those jobs and moved into our current space (the former Metz Brewery in Little Italy), and we’ve spent the past four decades building the business.”

Fortunately, both brothers—who, as children, designed and built their own treehouses—bring different but complementary strengths to the business. Dennis, the younger of the two, handles fabrication, production, and finances, while Dan works with clients by providing designs, sales, and marketing.  

It’s been this collaboration that has built Zongkers Custom Woods into the one-of-a-kind business that it is today. “Most business comes from past clients and word-of-mouth, which is a great sign that our clients love the work we do for them,” Dan Zongker said. “About 80 percent of our business is local and the other 20 percent comes from out-of-state requests and the occasional international request. We get a lot of repeat business.”

Along with local clients who return again and again for custom furniture, the Zongker brothers do custom woodwork for clients in 48 states and seven countries. They’ve also created custom pieces for some heavy hitters, including the FBI, CIA, Pentagon, and NASA.

Among the custom pieces Zongkers makes, which employs a handful of long-time employees who learn their craft on the job, include handcrafted bed frames, dressers, armoires, and dining room tables, among others. But they don’t stop there. Some of their most unique and requested pieces are custom conference tables, game/pool tables, and other one-of-a-kind items such as a wristwatch display armoire.

Zongkers specializes in custom artwork and hand-carvings, marquetry veneer inlays, curved furniture, and specialty finishes. “Offering design services for furniture, kitchens or casework, our work is handcrafted by experienced craftsmen and attention to detail and quality,” Dan Zongker said. 

Dennis Zongker also has honed his innate talent to transform personal wood carvings into furniture as well as figures and statues. Some of his most recognized—80 custom kneelers—anoint the grounds of The Cloisters on the Platte. “We work very closely with the client to learn what they want and design it for them,” he said. “Along with our craftsmanship, it’s one of the things we pride ourselves on most. When we design and build something, we want it to be an heirloom piece—something handed down from generation to generation.” He explained the pieces are designed and built to last with great value and love. “We distinguish ourselves from other shops by fabricating originally designed furniture one piece at a time, complete with the artist’s signature to ensure authenticity.” 

A tour of the workshop floor revealed numerous pieces at various stages of completion. Some were still in the early stages of design and construction, while others were in the middle of intricate, personal design and build, hand-carved with tremendous care and attention. 

Dan Zongker said problem-solving is a vital part of working with and understanding the client. “They often come in with an idea of what they might want, but through conversation and asking questions, I’m able to help them figure out precisely what they want,” he said. “From there, we put together visual designs for them, and we narrow things further. We want to make sure the client gets what they want and often something beyond what they wanted. That’s very important to us.”

Although custom pieces have a price tag that’s higher than something mass-manufactured, Dan Zongker said it’s the value and custom design, build, and wood that makes it priceless. Still, depending on size and design, custom pieces don’t have to break the bank. “We strive to provide value with every piece we design,” Dennis Zongker said. “We put a lot of ourselves in our pieces. But we can design and build something for anyone at nearly any price. You don’t have to be wealthy to afford our custom pieces, and you get exactly what you want.”

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