Dresden & Company expands, brings crafts and tourism back to the community – Y-City News
A local business recently celebrated the grand opening of its new building and local leaders, along with community members, gathered to join in the festivities.
Dresden & Company, one of the county’s fastest growing local businesses, has opened another location in the village of Dresden, a storefront designed to attract visitors from across the country, showcasing all of the many locally made products available for purchase through its network of owners.
Co-founder Jim Lepi says their company and his new site continue to help in their mission to restore the small village community to its roots in basket making.
On Thursday, October 14, a crowd gathered in front of the storefront at 416 Main Street, next to the world’s largest shopping cart.
Zanesville-Muskingum County Chamber of Commerce President Dana Matz gave a brief 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 during its a few short years of activity.
Holmes cited how Lepi never abandoned the small community, Morrison wished them luck in their future endeavors, and King explained how the startup became the village’s second largest employer.
Lepi said the company has always focused on providing a top quality product and supporting its employees as well as the local community. He thanked everyone for their support and gave an overview of the exponential growth of the business.
“We hope to get past this space quickly,” said Lepi graciously. “Everyone here has been a vital part of our team. “
Instead of the traditional ribbon, a long piece of basket was cut as part of the inauguration.
According to Lepi, while the company has had to adapt due to the pandemic, it continues to weave baskets in Dresden and is working on some really initial projects.
One of them, which Lepi said he can’t disclose much about, involves them making baskets for a major movie. Much like when Conn’s Potato Chips gained national exposure when featured in an Oscar-winning 1980s film, the placement will once again put a local Muskingum County company on the national map. .
Another product in development and production is a Christmas basket. Lepi thinks it should reasonably last for generations and would make a great item to pass on to the family.
“This is one of the most beautiful baskets we have ever made,” said Lepi with a passionate smile.
The co-founder said what excites him most is the future, which he says forces them to be innovative.
“I know more than anything that our future depends, more than anything else, on innovations. New products that have never been made before and that are not made in China or Indonesia and are being shipped here, ”Lepi said. “We need unique products that we can build right here in Dresden and be the first to market so that we cannot be compared to cheaper foreign products. We know this and so far people have embraced Made in America brands.
Not only is Dresden & Company a local employer that buys almost all of its products in the country, 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 has made us all helpless,” recalls Lepi. “It was our way of helping.
While the last two years have not been easy getting started, Lepi said, they still have everyone who started with them. Sacrifices had to be made, Lepi added, but noted how everyone still comes every day with so much enthusiasm and passion.
Lepi himself has been called by many as a hero and a role model. Growing up just north of Dresden, he married his longtime wife, Bobbi, and in the early 1980s founded a real estate brokerage house. Lepi & Associates Real Estate Services, now owned and operated by his wife, has grown to be the largest firm in the region. In the late 1980s, together with his brothers, he started an environmental services company, Lepi Enterprises.
He received the Distinguished Graduate Award from the local Tri-Valley schools, where he also worked for a few years as a supervisor of buildings and grounds, Lepi spent six years at the Dresden village council, he helped train the Dresden Village Association, has served as chairman of both the board of directors of the Muskingum County Community Foundation and the Building Environment Council of Ohio as well as numerous other accolades.
His help in the resurgence of economic life in Dresden after the collapse of Longaberger, both through Dresden & Company and its other businesses, won him much praise and admiration.
For Lepi however, he doesn’t consider himself a hero. Humbly, when asked what it meant to him to be seen as a hero and role model, he just shook his head slightly from side to side, visibly surprised at the recognition.
“I don’t know if it’s really well placed, I think there are a lot of heroes in Dresden,” said Lepi. “I don’t see myself as one. When I think of a hero I think of firefighters and paramedics and I know the sacrifices they make, their robots in their beds every night year after year and they get very few thanks. The police are the same way, they give so much and receive so little in return. “
Lepi says he thinks Dresden & Company should be ten times bigger than it is today and that they have big goals for the future. The new center located 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 like a welcome center as they explore the village.
“This is happening so far despite the pandemic,” Lepi said. “People schedule tours so we have buses coming and that has always been our focus and that will be directly linked to our growth.”
As they continue to grow, they gain access to the available space in Dresden, reducing the number of storefronts and vacant buildings while beautifying the quaint little village.