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Faith, Family & Fortitude

Faith, Family & Fortitude

Like many small businesses, By The Yard began with two simple dreams: Being your own boss & feeding hungry people.

It seemed simple really. After years of dissatisfaction in her job as a traveling sales manager which required being away from family and general frustration of climbing the corporate ladder, Deb Anderson wished for more. She wanted to do more in her community. She also desired a job or a career that wouldn’t be destructive on her health.

It was after hearing the Object of the Rotary that sparked Deb’s fire to set out on her own and create a legacy for both her family and her community.

The object reads like this...

The Object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise and, in particular, to encourage and foster:

  • FIRST: The development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service;
  • SECOND: High ethical standards in business and professions; the recognition of the worthiness of all useful occupations; and the dignifying of each Rotarian’s occupation as an opportunity to serve society;
  • THIRD: The application of the ideal of service in each Rotarian’s personal, business, and community life;
  • FOURTH: The advancement of international understanding, goodwill, and peace through a world fellowship of business and professional persons united in the ideal of service.
  • In 1995, Deb Anderson created her own recipe and designs to create unique outdoor furniture made primarily from recycled plastic milk jugs. She and her family gathered to discuss just WHAT to name this new endeavor. Many names were tossed around but ultimately someone said “How about By The Yard?” YES! That was it. Deb began to build a business and literally started out from sketches on her daughter’s school supply list. This is the original sketch for the By The Yard logo.

    Cool fact: Can you identify what character might have inspired the tree shape in the logo?A character from Sesame Street no less! It’s Big Bird’s head!

    When Deb was asked “how did it all begin?” She said “I probably did it all wrong! I had NO plan, NO budget and I maxed out all of my credit cards!” But faith, fortune and fortitude led the way. Deb made a strategic move to apply for a booth at the Minnesota State Fair and that ONE decision was what took root and gave the business a firm and grounded foundation. 22 years later...the By The Yard booth is still located in the Merchandise Mart delighting loyal and new customers each year.

    The State Fair experience gave Deb all of the motivation she needed to begin what she affectionately calls the “giving machine” of her company. Deb strongly desired to FEED PEOPLE. She immediately began working with places like Loaves and Fishes as well as Feed My Starving Children. Deb began with a magic number in her mind ... 7%. She envisioned that 7 percent of all earnings would be used towards feeding hungry people. Since then, a Giving Committee was formed and the giving has been abundant especially in feeding people but also in many ways for community outreach. Deb feels strongly, and has passed this on to her employees throughout the years, that everyone is charged with making a difference in the world.

    Deb and her husband Roger, along with their children, have worked over the years to take this business from an idea to a corporation. The business began at home and soon was taking over the entire house. No indoor space was free of outdoor furniture! A space was first rented in Shakopee and they outgrew that quickly. Deb and Roger built their first manufacturing facility in Jordan in 2003 that was a “HUGE” space. This building offered the luxury of being prepared for shows as well as a small space to sell furniture. After ten or so years that space was no longer as “HUGE” as they needed! The current facility and showroom was built in 2015 creating much needed space for manufacturing as well as a beautiful showroom.

    In 2016, a second location was established outside of Chicago in Vernon Hills, IL. This location was chosen based on climate, culture, opportunity and similar midwestern values.

    Later in 2016 after the 22nd State Fair, Deb Anderson retired. She has left her business in good hands as she sets out to now do the business she feels she was called to do - give to others. She herself said “When we nurture our humanity, we realize that we have enough. We get to feel real happiness giving rather than searching.” Deb has left an amazing legacy at By The Yard not only in her company vision & mission but a legacy in the form of faith and family. Family that will continue to help run the business with her original vision in mind.