Profiles, V10I1

Earning a Gold Star

Gold Star Buildings owners Wayne (left) and Mose Troyer (father and son) with builder Daniel Khachatrian.

Spring 2023 was interesting for Gold Star Buildings.

Interesting might be an understatement.

The portable storage building company, owned by Mose and Wayne Troyer (father and son), in Hadley, Pennsylvania, found itself down a builder when Wayne’s brother partnered with their brother-in-law in another business venture, moving on from what had become a family business.

“As a solution, we hired a Ukrainian refugee in an effort to fill the void in the shop, as well as help him out by giving him a job and an income,” says Wayne.

That led to a very different challenge for the Troyers: communicating with and training their new employee.

“When he (Daniel Khachatrian) first started, he had very limited English, so nearly everything had to be communicated through Google translate,” shares Wayne. 

“That got a little frustrating, as well as time-consuming, because one couldn’t just holler something and expect him to get it. 

“I had to stop what I was doing, get out my phone and communicate that way.” 

Khachatrian’s English is improving, and he understands a lot of keywords and phrases so that Google is not needed as much. 

However, the challenge was compounded due to him not having experience in construction, and not being familiar with measuring in feet and inches. 

“It takes a lot of patience, but we continue to see improvement, and he is willing to learn and willing to work, so that helps tremendously,” says Wayne.

But Khachatrian isn’t the only person at Gold Star Buildings willing to learn and work.

The Troyers’ efforts and patience over the years have led them to be full owners of the business started by a family member in another state.

GOLD STAR BEGINNINGS

Gold Star Buildings got its start by Wayne’s uncle by marriage, David Stutzman, who built pressure-treated storage sheds for many years in Illinois. 

“While visiting in our area, he saw the potential for a shed business in northwest Pennsylvania,” Wayne shares. 

“Finally in 2010, he decided to get serious about it and asked around for someone who would be willing to provide the facility and manage the business for him.

That’s when a mutual friend (Wayne Raber) decided he would be interested in providing a place and management for the company. 

“He had raised veal calves for a number of years prior and was not making out very well with those,” says Wayne. “So, we literally ‘raised the roof’ of his veal barn and made the walls higher. 

“While all of that was in progress, another local shed business (that didn’t offer pressure-treated sheds) allowed us to build some sheds in their shop until the remodeled shop was finished.”

It was during that first year that Wayne started working for the company as a builder. 

By 2013, Wayne Raber had also started another business venture and decided he had too much going on, so he decided to let go of the shed business. 

“By that time my younger brother, Tony, also worked at the shop, so my dad decided that if the boys want to build sheds, he might as well join them,” says Wayne. 

“So, he took over management of the business, and we continued to build out of that shop for the next two years.” 

The location of the shop was less than ideal. It was on a dirt road, not along a main road. So, Mose started looking for a piece of wooded property and ended up buying a few acres along a main highway. 

“Over the winter of 2013-14, we cleared off a good-sized lot, and the next summer we built a 50 by 100, three-bay shop,” shares Wayne. “In the early months of 2015, we moved everything over to the new shop and started production. 

“At this point, David still owned the company, but my dad managed it. In 2016 at the age of 24, I bought a 16 percent share in the company.”

After a few more years, Stutzman mentioned that he would be willing to sell the entire business to the Troyers if they were interested. 

“That was something that made sense to us since he lived out of state and we did most of the day-to-day work in the business anyway,” Wayne says. 

“So in 2019, my dad and I bought out David’s shares and entered a 55/45 percent partnership. Our roles really didn’t change that much, except that now we were solely responsible to make all the decisions and to make sure they were good ones.”

At that point, Gold Star Buildings mostly built pressure-treated sheds with a few metal-sided sheds thrown in the mix. In 2021, they decided to add painted sheds to the lineup. 

“We wanted to be able to serve more people, and it seemed that the pressure-treated market was fizzling out some, and people were trending toward painted sheds, especially in and near big cities,” points out Wayne. 

GOLD STAR BUSINESS

Today, the company offers pressure-treated, painted, and metal-sided structures. Styles include what customers would consider “normal” garden sheds, lofted barns, garages, cabins, and cottage sheds.

“In the past number of years, we’ve been building and selling in the 250-300 (structure) range,” Wayne shares. “However, this year has been down some from that number. 

“In recent years we’ve had two to three builders in the shop, including myself. I also do all the bookkeeping. My dad is in the office answering phone calls and most of the emails. He also orders and picks up metal for our sheds and goes after any other materials that we might need. 

“He makes most of the ramps, takes care of most of the service work, and does a lot to keep things running around here. In fact, some days I think he is pretty much indispensable. 

“We are currently a three-man operation (not including the delivery driver).”

Gold Star Buildings’ shop is set up to build a structure from start to finish in one bay. 

“I do the framing, painting, and roofing,” Wayne says. “I have a guy cutting for me, making trusses and doors, installing hardware, and helping with roofing.”

The company uses a multi-pronged approach to sell its structures. First, it has lots and dealers who sell on a commission basis. 

“We also have a website through which we get a good amount of sales,” Wayne shares. “People can submit a quote request form or use the 3D builder and submit a quote request that way, and then we send them a quote. 

“By far, most of our sheds are sold out of our office, either in person or over the phone/online.”

Stock sheds can typically be delivered within a week, depending on the location, Wayne says. 

“Our lead times on custom orders this past summer were at eight weeks. Occasionally, we were about 10 weeks out,” he shares. “Of course, that changes in the winter and spring months. Usually, we can deliver in two weeks during those months. 

“I haven’t really timed myself recently, but by myself, I’d say I can probably build a 12 by 20 lofted barn in a day. With someone cutting for me, of course, it would take less time.”

When it comes to custom structures, Wayne says the company can do “pretty much anything within reason.” 

“We’ve done some odd sizes, some three-sided sheds, custom roof pitches, etc.,” he adds. “Popular features are ramps, windows, electrical packages.”

Most of the company’s sheds are delivered fully assembled with a pickup and gooseneck. Oftentimes, they are set using a Mule. 

“We do end up building some on-site because of limited access to the customer’s site,” Wayne points out. “We have a dedicated contractor that hauls most of our sheds. 

“Our delivery driver has someone that does his scheduling, so once the building is completed, we notify her, and she makes contact with the customer and makes arrangements for delivery. 

“Payment is collected on delivery and the driver turns in the delivered work order.” 

Wayne adds that something of interest that Gold Star Buildings does is its referral rewards program. 

“After a shed is delivered, we send out referral cards to the customer,” he says. “He then signs his name on the card and gives it to his friends. 

“When his friend comes in and purchases a building, he will get a discount, and the person who referred him will get a certificate that he can use toward a purchase or redeem for cash.”

GOLD STAR FUTURE

In the long term, Wayne believes the company will continue to be successful and provide jobs in the community, as well as meet storage needs for people in the areas we serve. 

“In the near future, I think we will likely see a downturn from the past few years but nothing that we can’t weather with God’s help,” he concludes.

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