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TIMBER TIME: Benji Hurd handles the marketing and sales for Ozark Timber Frame, which his dad, Ben Hurd, co-owns.
SBJ photo by Wes Hamilton
TIMBER TIME: Benji Hurd handles the marketing and sales for Ozark Timber Frame, which his dad, Ben Hurd, co-owns.

Business Spotlight: A Solid Foundation

Ozark Timber Frame builds a brand on Amish crafting techniques

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Greene County residents are likely familiar with Ozarks Timber Frame LLC’s work even if it’s not apparent.

The timber frame production and installation company has been working in the area for over 30 years, building covered bridges, homes and commercial structures, some of which are always in the public eye.

“If you go into Bass Pro, the trees, the limbs, the stairs, the woodwork, a lot of that is ours,” says co-owner Danny Schwartz, a member of the Amish community in El Dorado Springs.

Schwartz has done work for Bass Pro Shops owner Johnny Morris sporadically in the 1980s and nearly full-time during the 1990s, working in stores in the Atlanta and Dallas areas, along with Morris’ personal property.

“If you’re going to Big Cedar and drive over the covered bridges, those are ours,” Schwartz says.

Ozark Timber Frame added the water wheel system at the Bass Pro store in Fort Worth, Texas, similar to the one at the retailer’s flagship in Springfield.

Following his Amish roots, horses are the only power source used at his workshop.

Ozark Timber Frame also has built private residences for Morris, as well as Tim O’Reilly of O’Reilly Hospitality Management and Shawn Askinosie of Askinosie Chocolate. With projects typically ranging between $100,000 and $900,000, the company generated nearly $3 million in 2018 revenue.

“That’s a lot of material,” Schwartz says.

In the beginning
In 1986, local architect Joe Pierce wanted to build a new timber frame home.

He planned to buy a package from a company out east, until Schwartz told him he could built it cheaper.

“I said I could erect it for the price he’s paying for it in Pennsylvania, minus the delivery and minus the install,” Schwartz says. “So we did.”

The Pierce home became the first full timber frame project by Ozarks Timber Frame.

“From 1986 on, this is all I’ve done,” Schwartz says.

He learned the trade from his father by building timber frames for their Amish community barns.

As business began to pick up, Schwartz needed more workshop space to meet demand.

He enlisted the help of Ben Hurd, who owned Missouri Stove & Chimney in Sparta. Hurd agreed to receive timber loads and process what work couldn’t be done at Schwartz’s former shop in Seymour.

“He was my contact between us and the outside world,” Schwartz says.

By the early 2000s, Schwartz, Hurd and company were constructing 30-35 homes a year, Schwartz says, from Colorado to Tennessee.

“We go everywhere now, but we try to keep in the local area as much as we can,” Schwartz says.

Ozark Timber Frame crews headed deep into the South for relief help 10 years ago. When Hurricane Ike hit, Schwartz got a call from a friend in Houston.

“I went down there about three weeks after the hurricane, and through him and his friend I got in,” he says of the disaster area. “We built eight packages from there. We made them on-site and assembled them.”

A YouTube video by the Texas County Reporter, titled “Amish Beach Houses,” chronicles the first homes being rebuilt in the area by Schwartz, his team and a local contractor.

People and projects
As Hurd approached retirement age, he sold his business to his son Benji.

“I bought my dad’s chimney and stove business seven years ago, kind of as he slowed down I started helping,” Hurd says.

The younger Hurd now also handles marketing and sales for Ozark Timber Frame, and he supplies trucks, trailers and electric tools for installations.

Schwartz also owns Schwartz Post & Beam LLC, his Amish shop now in El Dorado Springs, where the frames are crafted. The community doesn’t use motors or electricity, so a gear-system carousel powered by two horses produces the power.

“Sometimes, if we’re working the full day, we’ll put four in there,” Schwartz says.

The company’s preferred wood source is the western mountains of the Cascade Range in Oregon.

“They’re a little redder and they’re better grain than the eastern Cascades,” Schwartz says.

Recent projects for Ozark Timber Frame are a covered bridge at Dogwood Canyon Nature Park and seven other bridges for Bass Pro’s Morris, along with Arnie’s Barn at Top of the Rock in Branson and The Barley House at Moon Town Crossing owned by O’Reilly. Schwartz says event barns are the newest trend he’s built.

“In the last three or four years, event barns are crazy. It’s the hot thing,” Schwartz says.

He recently received a call to construct an event barn in Appleton City, and Hurd says the company is working on a nearly $950,000 event barn for O’Reilly in Fort Worth, Texas.

“Tim has used them for their farm area and personal buildings and had a good experience with them,” says Cassidy Palmer, marketing and sales director for The Barley House.

Palmer says concrete is being poured for an outdoor patio area that will be lined with trees at 5,000-square-foot The Barley House. The building features a wooden truss system structure and overhead garage doors for open-air access.

“As far as all this elaborate design, that came from dreams,” Schwartz says of The Barley House.

Event barns usually range between $300,000 and $900,000, Hurd says, while the residential work – shell construction only – usually cost $100,000-$250,000.

It took about seven weeks in the horse-powered shops to process the framework for The Barley House, followed by a week of installation, Schwartz says.

Up next are tiny homes. He’s built five so far – in both log style and conventional framing.

“Tiny houses is what I’d like to go for,” he says of the mass-production potential. “We’re hoping to be in production a year from now.”

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