Riding's OCTOBER, 2008 COVER STORY!


California Riding Magazine • October, 2008

Barn Pros
Old World Romance Meets Modern Technology.

by Rebecca Sparenberg

From the top of a small hill in Southern California a charming gabled barn holds court over a field of bay, chestnut and grey horses. The barn’s tall spruce walls, gables and cupola are a reminder of days long gone: when horses stood as a centerpiece of society, and months of planning went into fashioning the perfect barn. With every detail carefully considered, the barn is as pretty as a picture in a catalogue, which makes sense—the barn is part of Barn Pros’ Dover Elite Series, which is one of the many models available at Barn Pros.
When Jeff Knoth and Steve Oslund founded Barn Pros over two decades ago it was to meet a growing demand for very attractive, high end barns on the West Coast. Already established mini-ranch builders, they handled every aspect of a job—building the barn, adding on an apartment, even laying out and putting up fencing. They never imagined that 10 years later the Internet would change their business, and that 20 years later their barns would be found across the United States and Canada as well as in Italy and Japan.

“Once we launched our website in the late 90s we started getting calls from all over the nation,” recalls Jeff. “We would get calls from people in North Carolina that viewed our site, loved our barns and wanted us to build for them. At the time, we were not set up to build on the East Coast.” Seeing an opportunity, Barn Pros went to work developing a program that allows them to service those and other potential customers.

By 2000, Barn Pros had the ability to ship pre-engineered barn packages nationwide. They began concentrating on developing top-of-the-line, traditional all-wood horse barn kits. All inclusive, their packages include commercial grade timbers, “select grade” tongue and groove siding with handmade doors, dormers and fully functioning cedar cupolas. Buyers can either assemble the kits themselves or hire a contractor.

But Jeff wanted Barn Pros’ mission to be more than just creating beautiful, easy to assemble barns. He wanted Barn Pros to manufacture barns that would last the tests of time. Barns that could weather high winds and heavy snows, excited horses that kick and bored horses that gnaw. Barns that could handle the strain of age and in 25 years still look good.

DEDICATED TO SUCCESS

“There are a lot of copycat companies out there,” Jeff says. “But there are reasons why some companies last and others don’t. For example, we have a lifetime warranty and we stand by our products. When you’re shipping around the world everything needs to be right. You don’t want someone to return a barn from Tokyo. Our dedication to quality is one of the reasons we have been around 20 years and we’re going to be around for generations to come.”

Jeff continues, “We’re not the best because we’ve been around the longest—we’ve been around the longest because we’re the best.” One of the many ways Barn Pros maintains the high quality of their kits is by doing all the manufacturing indoors. All of the components are manufactured and pre-assembled inside Barn Pros’ facility near Seattle, WA. The kits are even palletized, wrapped, strapped and loaded on semi-trucks for delivery.

Jeff says many horsemen worry that traditional style wooden barns are not as durable as metal barns and require more maintenance. But he assures equestrians that their fears are not justified, that every detail of their barns and structures have been thought of with durability, safety and longevity in mind. All of Barn Pros’ stables are supported by large structural timbers and concrete, which provides strength and durability.

New technology has also given Barn Pros additional tools to protect stall doors, window ledges and corners from cribbers and wood chewers. These areas are all capped with a special galvanized metal for protection. Jeff adds that while they have had very few reported cases of horses causing damage by kicking, Barn Pros does sell kick plates that can be added onto stalls.

Jeff and the rest of Barn Pros’ staff and management work hard every day to ensure that all their clients can purchase with confidence. “We only align ourselves with companies that share our values and commitment to high standards, like Dover. For example, you can buy tongue and groove anywhere, but we only get ours from one mill and we always have. We could increase our margins if we purchased elsewhere, but we have never found Canadian Spruce of the same quality. We have worked hard to have a spotless record, and a spotless record is very rare in the construction world. The equestrian world is an especially small community, and reputation is everything. We stand behind ours.”

A BARN FOR EVERY OCCASION

Many equestrians have spent hours dreaming of their perfect barn and years working to achieve it. But every horseman’s wants and needs are different, and so are the requirements of their prefect barn. Barn Pros currently offers eight different barn series with several barns in each series, each one varying in size and amenities. They also offer a selection of houses which, although are built like barns, are engineered as living spaces, as well as garages and shops.
In addition to the Dover Elite Series, Barn Pros recently added two new models: The Draft Horse and the Ayrshire Gable Style Barn. “The Draft Horse is, of course, designed for people with Draft horses, but it also works well for Warmbloods and other large breeds. Everything is bigger—the stalls are larger, the doorways are higher and the hallways are wider. We wanted the Draft Series to be appropriately sized for large horses, but not over the top.”

The Draft Series has only been on the market for two years, but Barn Pros has already shipped them to several well-known facilities around the world. Just last year the Staten Island Zoo in New York City put together a Barn Pros Clydesdale barn, part of the Draft Horse Series.

While all Barn Pros buildings are designed in the European style, the Ayrshire with its 22-foot high loft, custom-built steeple cupola, gable windows and French doors embodies everything the company represents. “It is that special combination of old world romance and modern technology. People love that about our barns. They are open and airy, with lots of natural light from several sources. I have seen people turn our barns into apartments, offices, wineries, even a church.”

PIECE BY PIECE

But every horseman doesn’t need a new barn. Many old barns can easily be remodeled and some only need a face-lift to bring out their natural beauty. For the first time Barn Pros is now making all the components used in their barn kits (stall fronts, doors, barn accessories, hardware and exclusive Barn Pros lumber) available for individual purchase online.

“We just launched our online store. Times are hard and lots of people just want to fix up their current barn. We understand that everyone can’t afford a new barn, and not everyone needs one. Because we have been around for years and have a good reputation, we have connections with some of the best lumber and metal companies out there. It makes a big difference in the product quality we offer. Horsemen can now buy all the pieces we use for our barns to remodel their existing building.”

Jeff says Barn Pros is always moving forward and looking for new, innovative ways to meet their clients’ growing needs. “Business is like being on a hill. You’re either on the gas or coasting backwards. We keep our foot on the gas. Watch us as we continue to
move forward.”

For more information on Barn Pros visit www.barnpros.com, call 866-844-2276 or e-mail barns@barnpros.com.