From Ohio History Central
Sauder first table. Courtesy of Sauder Woodworking.
In 1934, Erie Sauder 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 in 1997. Under Maynard Sauder's leadership, the company continued to grow. In 1984, the Sauder Woodworking Company and its subsidiaries employed 1,200 workers. Within ten years, the number of employees had doubled. In 1993, the various Sauder companies created a co-gen plant to produce electrical power for its facilities. This electrical plant burned sawdust to generate electricity. The plant remains in operation today, burning approximately 145 tons of sawdust daily. In 1999, Erie Sauder's grandson, Kevin Sauder, assumed the presidency of the Sauder Woodworking Company. Today Sauder is the largest ready-to-assemble furniture company in the United States.