The Early Days
In 1951, Al Aanensen, with his wife Glady at his side, founded the company with a broken back, two unemployment checks, and a prayer for work. He learned on the job to become a skilled carpenter and cabinetmaker, while Glady learned to manage the business while working a second job as a nurse. Those nursing paychecks then financed the purchase of new tools necessary for Aanensen’s to grow. They even sold their home in order to pool the resources necessary to buy our current building. Without their sacrifice and perseverance, we would simply not exist as a company today.
A Second Generation
Ted Aanensen, our current President, grew up working alongside his Dad, and his ambition was to grow the scope and complexity of the type of work we did. No project would be too big! His skill as designer, project manager, and excellent communication skills built a level of trust with his clients that translated into long-lasting relationships over multiple projects. And his formal business training from Upsala College was a tremendous asset as the company grew. Gayle ran the payroll, office staff, advertising outreach, and managed the important day to day business details, all while raising the couple’s three children.
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Three Generations of Aanensens
Matt Aanensen, our current Vice President, also grew up in the business, stocking shelves after grade school, working in the field in high school, and on the drafting tables during college breaks. After graduating from Washington University in St. Louis with his Masters of Architecture, he focused on pushing the design aspect of the business forward, winning a Sub Zero kitchen design contest shortly after joining the business full time. Along with his wife Rose, they represent the next step in the evolution of our business.
The Aanensens Team
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the many employees that have joined us on our journey through the years. Without them, we would not able to serve those we have, and we count them as equally important, and cherished, members of our family.
“…most importantly, we thank you for helping to make our dream house come true. It has become a magnificent, yet comfortable and warm place to spend time with family and friends. We couldn’t imagine trusting our dream home to anyone else.”
A Brief Timeline of Important Events
- 1950 Al Aanensen breaks his back in an industrial accident. Spinal fusion and steel brace result
- 1951 After failing employment physicals due to his back injury, Al, with Glady by his side, starts “Al Aanensen, Carpenter,” with two unemployment checks and a prayer for work
- 1951 First job is to build a set of steps for a local doctor. Buys a book to learn how to do it on the job
- 1955-1964 Al doing large scale industrial work in the Newark and Harrison areas. One project is to make 80 identical engineering cabinets for Standard Tool and Dye Co. to be used nationwide. The owner of Standard Tool is impressed and has Al repair an antique set of Chinese Wood and Jade screens in his personal home. A love of fine woodworking is born.
- 1966 Ted graduates Upsala College and joins the business in sales. Business is renamed “Al Aanensen and Son”
- 1969 Al breaks his back for a second time, and the decision is made to acquire a brand of ready-made cabinets to alleviate some of Al’s shop work. Start selling Excel Brand Cabinets
- 1972 Al and Glady sell their house to finance the acquisition of 146 Midland Avenue, which has a large shop, office, and showroom
- 1972 To use the full showroom, start selling unfinished furniture, Scandinavian Imports, and kitchen cabinetry. 2 Full displays of Rich Maid Kitchens are installed
- 1972 Gayle joins the business
- 1972 Sell first custom kitchen in Summit NJ, have not stopped working in town for more than a few weeks since!
- 1973 Business is incorporated and changed to “Aanensen’s”
- 1974 We have 4 of the 9 kitchens in the Overlook Hospital Kitchen Tour. A reputation for high-end kitchen remodeling is firmly established
- 1983 In full swing as a kitchen remodeling business, Rich Maid Factory in Pennsylvania burns down with 8 kitchens of ours in production burned with it. Al comes out of semi-retirement and we build all the kitchens ourselves in our shop. All our contracts are honored.
- 1984 Without being able to rely on Rich Maid as a valued cabinet supplier, we investigate other dealers and pick up Quality Custom Cabinetry and Wood-Mode, both neighbors of Rich Maid in Pennsylvania
- 1984 Al officially retires from the business and Ted is named President
- 1985 Glady officially retires
- 1980’s and 90’s riding the growth of the home remodeling industry, Ted grows the business to do ever larger and more ambitious jobs
- 1998 Matt joins the business after earning his Masters in Architecture from Washington University in St. Louis
- 2001-2003 Ted and Matt successfully complete the building of a 10,000 sq. ft new house and a home remodel of a 7,000 sq. ft. house simultaneously. Two of the largest projects in our history.
- 2005 Gayle officially retires to pursue creative writing
- 2006 Rose officially joins the business after the birth of hers and Matt’s daughter, Madeleine