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Linn County Leader - Brookfield, MO
  • Local business ships antique bath items from coast to coast

  • One in a series of stories on local manufacturing.
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  • What started as a bathtub refinishing business on the side morphed into an online business that imports bathtubs from across the world and prepares them for sale to customers from coast to coast.
    And at the same time as its international trade has picked up, the locally-based Tub Connection is also expanding its local wood bathroom products made and finished in the Midwest.
    Housed in a pair of facilities in Kirksville, Tub Connection does business across the nation with its specially-imported cast-iron bathtubs and bathroom pieces. The eight-person company focuses on the import business, although it has started to sell locally-created cedar vanities as demand for locally-sourced products increases.
    "Business has been very good, very strong for us," said Leland Allemang, business owner and founder.
    The business started primarily as an after-market refinisher, but has expanded to include manufacturing and importing.
    Since moving to Kirksville from Colorado in 1999, Allemang started by refinishing and refurbishing antique clawfoot tubs.
    He found so many in the Midwest, in people's pastures, garages and backyards, that he bought as many as possible. From there, he would refinish the tubs and then sell them to primarily the West or East Coast markets.
    "The thing about Kirksville is rent is cheap and since we sell everything we bring in, there are shipping costs no matter where we send and Missouri's central location helps a lot with that," Allemang said.
    About half of the tubs the company sells go to the East Coast, about 30 percent go to the West Coast, 15 percent stay here in the Midwest and about 5 percent go to Canada and Europe.
    Kirksville's location was helpful in starting up, Allemang said, and it's the educated, ambitious workforce that has kept him and Tub Connection here.
    "There really is a good workforce," he said. "You've got the Midwestern work ethic. You work hard and work smart."
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