The Business Life Podcast #020 - Sam Unruh, Unruh Furniture

Unruh Furniture - bed and dresserA couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of purchasing a custom-made desk for my home office (see further down in this post!) It’s the absolute favorite part of my office. Honestly, I look forward to going to work each day partially because I have this big, beautiful desk to sit at. It makes work fun!

I have Unruh Furniture to thank for my desk! Unruh Furniture is a custom furniture making company based in Kansas City, with a location in Dallas as well. My wife and I discovered their company back when I was looking for a new desk, and have been huge fans ever since. It was during our tour of their shop that we became fascinated with their approach to building custom furniture: their business model was incredible.

We’ve watched their company grow over the years and love seeing the story behind every piece of furniture they build. So, when I had the opportunity to interview the founder and owner of Unruh Furniture, Sam Unruh, for my podcast, I was thrilled! Take a listen at how Sam turned his hobby of furniture making into a full-time, scalable business!

About Sam Unruh and Unruh Furniture

Sam Unruh - owner of Unruh Furniture


I married Hayley with all kinds of dreams in my heart and she gave me the courage to walk them out. I am from Kansas City and she is from Texas, and in college we met at a camp called Barnabas. It took her some time to catch up to my feelings but as soon as she did I married her. Today we have four kids, twenty employees, and all kinds of joy.

When she was pregnant with our first she talked me into quitting my real job so I could attempt to make furniture for a living. We started out in our little detached garage outside of Kansas City. After a year in the backyard we bought an old house to fix up into a shop.

We quickly grew into a bigger shop, and then a bigger one after that. I hired my first employee, Robb, back in the blue house, and by the time we got into our third building I had seven awesome employees.

In 2015 I was again in need of a bigger shop, and desiring an even bigger adventure. So I bought a 100-year-old church in the heart of Kansas City. I had learned by this time that the people who bought furniture from me were fans of a good story, and I knew this old church would be just that.

It was a massive undertaking. I first had to petition the City and the neighborhood in order to get permission to build furniture inside a historic church, located inside a residential neighborhood. It was a big ask, but after nine months of being a politician I got the approval.

Once I finally bought the building in November, 2015 we spent the next year renovating it out from top to bottom. There was no heating and cooling, no electrical, no plumbing. It was a huge renovation, but so worth the risk! We started constructing furniture inside the church in October of 2016.

And in the summer of 2017 Hayley (Texan) and I (Kansas Citian) decided it was time to expand the operation to Dallas, TX. We flew down in June to look at showroom spaces, and decided on the Brake & Clutch Warehouse in Deep Ellum. It too was a big renovation, and in January of 2018 we loaded up two box-truck’s worth of furniture and created a new showroom.

Our plan is to make the Kansas City & Dallas furniture inside the church until this summer, when we hope to open a separate manufacturing space in Dallas so that we can handcraft the Dallas orders locally.

Right now there are around twenty of us here, and I can say with great sincerity that we all really like what we do. I am very much hoping our story is still in the early chapters. We’ll be sure to keep you updated as we grow.

Key takeaways from this episode:

  • How Sam got started with custom furniture making as a hobby and the journey into a full-time, growing business.
  • How Unruh Furniture’s business model has allowed them to both scale their business and stand out in the industry.
  • Sam’s insights for lifestyle and work habits that has allowed him to run a successful company.

Andrew’s Desk Built by Unruh Furniture!

Isn’t this the most beautiful desk you’ve ever seen?

Like this episode?


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What to do when you have an off day in your business.

Nobody has a great day in their business every day. Truthfully, most days may feel like a struggle. But, then there are those days when you just down-right aren’t motivated, nothing is working like it should and you become overwhelmingly frustrated. The harder you try, the worse things seem to get. What should you do when you’re having a day like that?

Get out of the office for a while.

Many times, all it takes is a 30 minute break away from your work environment and a breath of fresh air to help you refocus and tackle your day that is going so poorly. Here’s a few suggestions:

  • Go grab a coffee out somewhere.
  • Take a 30 minute walk.
  • Take a 30 minute nap. I’m not a huge proponent of napping, but I find that my workday doesn’t go well if I’m lacking for sleep. A 30 minute snooze may be just what you need to get recharged.

Work on something completely different.

Habitual procrastination is the downfall of a lot of business owners, but temporary procrastination can be valuable. It’s those tasks that we really dislike doing that can be the force behind our terrible day. If you’re struggling to make progress on a particular task, don’t waste your time sitting there stewing over it or staring at the walls. Turn your focus toward something else completely for an hour, especially if it’s something you like doing in your business. A few ideas:

  • Take time to set or review your goals.
  • Practice creative thinking for your business using the ‘Twenty Ideas” exercise.
  • Try implementing something new in your business that you’ve always wanted to, but never got around to doing it before.

The key here is accomplishment! We’re more motivated to tackle tasks when we have a sense of accomplishment.

Just leave for the day.

This suggestion will make most business owners cringe. I don’t know about you, but I can’t sit still when I’m not working and know I should be. If there’s something that needs to be done in my business (which there always is) or if my wife is hard at work and I’m not, I feel guilty about not working. So, I open up my laptop and pretend to be busy. We have a stigma in our culture that if you’re not busy 24/7, you must be lazy.

Sometimes, your terrible day just won’t get better. This is what I call a “lost” day. Don’t fight it, just leave for the day. Go do something you enjoy. Most importantly, take the day (or even half day) off and don’t feel guilty about it. There’s two ways to look at it: you can either take the day off, get nothing accomplished, enjoy yourself and recharge your energy or, you can stay at work and get nothing accomplished and further your frustrations. Which one do you think will lead to a better work day the following day?

Hey, if you liked this article and found the suggestions useful, please share it on social media with your friends and fellow business owners! Thank you in advance for doing so! I also enjoy getting feedback directly: you can email me at [email protected]!

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