From a Garage to a Church
How an Alumnus Grew a Furniture Company
by Sydney Schildknecht, sophomore family studies/social services major and alumni office student worker
Sam Unruh is an amazing example of how anything is possible for someone with a big dream who is willing to work hard and have faith in God’s plan.
Sam graduated from College of the Ozarks in 2009 with a degree in speech communication. He went on to graduate from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2011 with a master’s in theological studies.
After finishing school, his wife, Hayley, encouraged him to pursue his dream of opening his own furniture company. With their first little girl on the way, Sam quit his “real job” and started making furniture in their detached garage.
Sam’s little business took off and after a year, they bought an old house to fix up into a shop. After only six months in the fixer-upper, they bought a small warehouse and hired three employees. The next year brought on more business and a need for a bigger building, so they bought their third building, a bigger warehouse. He hired on a few more men, including Pete the shop dog, who Sam admits to being his favorite employee.
In the middle of all those moves, Sam and Hayley brought twin girls into the world, bringing their baby total up to three girls under age three. About that same time, he stumbled upon the abandoned Westminster Congregational Church. Sam toured the beautiful building with a realtor and couldn’t help but fall in love with the idea of making furniture inside the old cathedral.
He bought the church in November of 2015 and completely renovated the 100-year-old building to function as the newest office, manufacturing building, and showroom. After nine long months of renovations, the Unruh Furniture Company moved in.
Sam and his dream company now reside in their dream building making a life and business for him and his family.
“What started as one [man] in a garage is now 22 and counting in a church,” he said. “What’s next I don’t know, but the work is hard, the ride is bumpy, and I couldn’t be happier to sit where I sit today.”
Sam credits his time at C of O to greatly impacting his hard work ethic which brought him to where he is today.
“I start every day at 5:30 a.m. because I enjoy work, and I enjoy life because I know Jesus,” he said. “I am grateful to College of the Ozarks for providing an atmosphere that fostered those values at such a formative stage in my life.”
Sam also made many lifetime friends during his years as a student serving in work stations such as construction and the Bonner Program. One of those friends, Josh Klein, a 2009 graduate with a major in graphic arts, works with Sam in Unruh Furniture’s photography and videos.
Sam and his wife, Hayley, reside in Kansas City, Missouri. They have four children: Emma (4), twins Ellie and Aubrey (2), and new baby boy, Bear.