Concrete artist moving to Volga

New facility to be built in Volga’s downtown business district

By: Eric Sandbulte, The Brookings Register

A concrete business will come to downtown Volga in 2018, and the concrete work made by owner Chad Guthmiller is nothing short of art.

The business, called Artisan Concrete Concepts, plans to break ground on a new facility (now a vacant lot) in spring 2018. Guthmiller plans on a six-month buildout, hoping to open his shop in September.

The planned facility will be 3,500 square feet and will primarily be used as a production studio. It will also feature retail and office space as well as a showroom.

Guthmiller currently lives with his wife and four daughters (ages 10, 8, 4 and 2) in Scotland, South Dakota, and they are now house hunting. He’s familiar with the area, however, having gone to South Dakota State University to study electrical engineering and lived in Brookings for 13 years.

He’s been running his business out of an 1,800-square-foot shop on his in-laws’ farm, for whose help he’s grateful. In his workshop, he uses an ultrahigh-performance concrete, a different variety than what’s found on sidewalks that’s about twice or three times as strong.

Founded in 2013, Artisan Concepts sells custom, handcrafted concrete products, ranging from countertops and sinks to fire pits and tables. He’s even recently had a few requests for hand-carved memorial stones.

Through such techniques as vertical carving, where he stacks up a column of thick concrete mix which he then carves to achieve a variety of shapes and textures. He can make it look like stone or veneer or wood or logs with that technique.

“What I make is what I call functional art. I like to try to capture people’s imaginations and give them a look that they’re looking for that is highly durable and functional at the same time,” Guthmiller said.

To go along with a change in location, Guthmiller will also bring a change to the products offered. He plans on adding home décor items – also made of concrete – with easily affordable products.

This was the suggestion of his wife, Amber, who will be joining him as the second employee at the business. He does hope to bring on more employees in the future.

Another ambitious expansion in business he’d like to get into is creating park pieces for municipalities, such as benches or outdoor chess sets.

He credited the Volga Development Corporation for convincing him to make the move to Volga, though it wasn’t a difficult decision for him. Already familiar with the area, he wanted the small-town atmosphere, and living close to Brookings brings with it plenty of amenities.

“What drew us to Volga was our commitment to our family, to our little girls. We grew up in South Dakota, and we think it’s a great place to raise our children. It’s a safe environment,” Guthmiller said.

And Volga City Administrator Jameson Berreth is happy to have the family and their business make their homes in Volga.

“Artisan Concrete Concepts will draw people to our city with its unique products,” he said in a press release. “The business will boost local tax revenue, and a new building in a former vacant lot will enhance our business district. Additionally, our city has the pleasure of welcoming a great, young family into the school system and community.”

Guthmiller will be in Volga promoting his business on Saturday for the city’s Small Business Saturday event that is taking place form 9 a.m. to noon.

He will bring some examples of his home décor items to the event and introduce himself and his business to the community.

Shop small

The city of Volga invites the public to attend its first Small Business Saturday event. Established to give the public fun activities to do in downtown Volga, Small Business Saturday activities will be held at a variety of locations.

Included as part of the morning’s proceedings:

• Pop-up market of various area vendors at 209 Kasan Ave., 9 a.m.-noon

• Hot chocolate at the Brookings County Museum, 9 a.m.-noon

• Food by Midwest Fresh Catering at Valley Motor Sports, 9 a.m.-noon

• Tour of available properties in downtown Volga for those interested in finding a space for business, starting at 209 Kasan Ave., 9:30-10:30 a.m.

• Pictures with Santa Claus at Valley Motor Sports, 10 a.m.-noon

• Free raffle at Sioux River Outfitters with a variety of prizes available, drawing at 11:30 a.m.

Contact Eric Sandbulte at esandbulte@brookingsregister.com.

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