Best Practices, Operations, V6I1

Shed Builder Winter Prep

Many builders cut often-used lumber and construct frames and rafters during the winter. (Photo courtesy of Adam Sablich/

The colder months of the year, typically from December to March or April, do not tend to be a time when people are focused on ordering and setting up a backyard storage shed. 

In some areas of the country, people may be more worried about finding their sheds underneath all the snow, not to mention digging out their snowblowers and shovels.

But for those in the business, catching up during slow-paced winter months ensures that you will rarely be behind during those hectic springs, summers, and falls. Here are just a few places planning on keeping busy, even if not quite as busy as they may be in July or August.


“Years ago, we made windows during the off-season,” explains Robert Nunes, Mid Coast Shed Company owner. “But now we just get those already custom made. Our main activity during the slower winter months includes work on the doors and the cutting of all of our rafters needed in construction of our sheds—reliable, old tasks like that.

“Additionally, we pre-fabricate some of the walls we need for the coming busy season, basic walls 8 or 10 feet in height. We happen to be fairly centrally located in Bowdoinham in southern Maine.”

During the autumn slowdown, displays are prepared and set up. 

“In a nutshell, we are just spending some money,” adds Nunes. “Since we are a small company—only some four employees—there is not really anything too complicated in what we do during the long stretches of our off-season weeks.”

Their main product is A-frame sheds; these are the No. 1 seller. They do a lot of custom work too. But A-frame structures happen to be a very good fit for the Maine winters in the state where they are constructed, as well as throughout New England and other states of the northern United States.

The area where the company is located averages over one foot of snow—or more—each year.

After 28 years, the business still goes on strong. 

“But times have changed,” adds Nunes. “What we do is actually finished cabinetry, as everyone does see your work on each unit sold. We have things pretty much down pat with our finished carpentry. Instead of hammers and nails, we work, even in the winter off-season, with nail guns.”


Winters in Maine are definitely a time for slowing down a bit, at least in sales of backyard sheds typically purchased in the busy summer months. Hill View Mini Barns in Etna, Maine, sells a few of their backyard barns in the winter, in addition to constructing their stock barns.

“Being busier in summer means we try to get everything filled up for the next summer,” says Emanual King, Hill View Mini Barns’ owner. “Stocking up is usually part of our operations, as well as getting materials for new construction. But it also depends on the market.

“We have to watch the market and then go from there. And pre-fabbing the frames and roof trusses is actually not something we do so much in winter. However, parts are cut ahead of time, perhaps more than in other seasons.”

But even that is changing too, according to King. Now pre-cutting has become virtually a year-round job in itself. As with other companies, Hill View Mini Barns does take time during the winter to update their software.

There are also always things to upgrade equipment-wise, according to King. They definitely take wintertime as a period during which the operations regroup, with needed items getting changed or deleted.

“That is when all of that stuff happens as situations with the mini-barn constructions are a bit low key,” he says. “In winter, we can also work on staffing needs, but then again, that is not when a lot of employees are needed, so there are limits to such activities as well. We happen to use manual labor for the bulk of our construction work.

“We definitely regroup in the winter, evaluating our entire company to try to better position ourselves in this traditionally slow season. Hill View Mini Barns does more than sheds, too.”

This includes trucking and employing an onsite crew as well. That side of the operation remains a thing they are involved in quite heavily with their 40-plus employees.

The 2008 crash changed things, says King. 

“In its wake, customization came about to a great extent in the aftermath,” he shares. “We, in turn, started doing more things to stay busy, something of a dress rehearsal for winter seasons to come.”


Verlyn Beachy and his company, Yoder Barns & Storage in Mifflinburg, Pennsylvania, use the off-season for building a lot of parts and pieces used on their standard sheds. 

“These items include such things as ramps, flower boxes, and even scrollwork for use on the gables of our sheds,” he says.

“We do a lot of prepping of materials as well. Anything that we use a lot of, and which can be cut ahead of time, we will go ahead and do that.”

Something also done ahead of time are the scabs used to scab 4 by 4s together prior to use on buildings. They cut 5/8-inch plywood into strips, stack those up, and place the pile in their warehouse.

“The idea is to do as much of the time-consuming work as possible beforehand,” Beachy says. “Having all these materials ready helps during the manufacturing process when we are very busy. 

“And for us our winter season pretty much depends on the weather. Winter may typically start around the 20th of December, but the end of this season may also come during March, April, or May.”

The business has some 10 people working, including office personnel. Yoder Barns & Storage started up in the mid-1980s. Beachy has owned the firm since 2000. 

“We actually do not mind the colder months,” he adds. “And this has a lot to do with the fact that we have a sister company. That one is involved with the marketing and delivering of propane gas, which has also been doing quite well.

“Cold weather? That is fine with us. And if it’s not an especially bitter cold winter, people are happy they do not have to spend so much on their heating bills. It all works out one way or another in the end.”

Part of the reason Yoder Barns & Storage got into propane sales goes back to the fact that shed sales slow down so much in the wintertime, according to Beachy.

“We were looking hard for something to do to keep busy with during the cold, snowy months. But this had to also be something that remains slow in the summer months,” he shares. “Propane sales gave us an answer to that question.

“BeCo Propane was started up in 2009. Our 10-year anniversary was last summer, and it remains a great fit. We continue to do well with that, with over 2,000 customers now. Another plus is that some of our propane delivery drivers work in the shed shop in the summertime, a win-win situation all around.

“Technically, we have four owners. My dad remains active in the business, then there are myself, my brother, and my sister. We are definitely a family business with plenty of us to brainstorm on what to busy ourselves with from December until whenever sheds are back on people’s minds.”



Comments are closed.

Current Issue

June/July 2024