Erie J. Sauder
Erie J. Sauder was born on August 6, 1904, in Archbold, Ohio. Sauder attended school only through the eighth grade. In 1934, he established a furniture-making business, the Sauder Woodworking Company, in a barn behind his home. The company grew quickly, with Sauder relocating his company and its five workers to a new and expanded location in Archbold in 1935. The Sauder Manufacturing Company continues to operate from this same location today. Sauder principally manufactured items for residents in surrounding communities, but in 1937, he began to manufacture church pews. From scrap wood left over from the pews, Sauder also began to manufacture tables.
In 1951, Sauder created the "knock-down" table. This table was packaged flat in a box, and the consumer easily assembled it at home. This marked the beginning of ready-to-assemble furniture. Initially, the "knock-down" table sold for between four and five dollars. In 1954, Sauder formed the Sauder Manufacturing Company, which assumed control of manufacturing church pews, while the Sauder Woodworking Company continued to produce other furniture. Eventually, Sauder also started the Archbold Container Company, which manufactured packaging material.
Sauder remained as president of the Sauder Woodworking Company until 1975, when his son, Maynard, succeeded him. Sauder remained as chairman of the board of this company until his death. During his retirement years, Sauder created Sauder Village in Archbold, Ohio. Sauder relocated several dozen buildings and other structures that dated from the nineteenth century to Sauder Village. His intention was to recreate a nineteenth-century community to educate people about the past. Sauder Village has remained a popular tourist attraction since its establishment. Today, besides the nineteenth-century buildings, the village contains an inn, a bakery, a restaurant, a campground, and a performance center.
Sauder died on June 29, 1997. His family continues to operate the Sauder Woodworking Company, its subsidiaries, and Sauder Village today.