The work of Dovetail Designs and Millwork Inc. is on display at some of the biggest commercial projects in the Billings area.
The refurbished Northern Hotel, the new Billings Public Library, the soon-to-be-completed Scheel’s store, the Billings Clinic operations center and a remodeling project at the Stockman Bank on Shiloh Road are just a few of Dovetail’s recent commercial projects.
“Before the recession, about 90 percent of our work was residential,” said Morgan Sevier, Dovetail’s office manager, who is also the company treasurer and is in charge of project development and project management. “Since the recession, about 70 percent of our work has been commercial.”
Growing up, Sevier spent lots of time at the family business. As a youngster he did the usual duties that one would expect a kid to do. He started by sweeping up and pitching in wherever he was needed. “I started learning and moved into the mill room, worked in production, the finishing room, assembly and install. I pretty much did it all,” he said.
Sevier’s father, Mark, started the business in 1979. He began by making custom furniture but soon realized there was more profit in custom cabinet work.
Over the years, Dovetail Designs gained a reputation for quality work, with projects ranging from custom kitchen cabinets to a renovation of the Montana State Capitol in Helena.
In his current role, Sevier has gotten away from the hands-on aspects of building cabinets.
“I really try not to work out in the shop,” he said. “If I can keep my employees busy, I’d rather have them doing the work.”
Part of the challenge of running a small business is scheduling enough work to stay busy throughout the year.
“We work really hard to keep our employees working full time,” Sevier said. “We average between 35 and 45 hours per week.”
Describe how you got where you are in your work today: I have wanted to work and run Dovetail since I was 8 years old. That said, the actual reason for my current position is I kept coming back.
What’s the toughest challenge that you have faced in your business? Navigating the boss/father/work/family relationship.
What did you learn from that challenge? I have learned how to compartmentalize stress, leaving work at work and home at home.
What’s the best business advice you have received? Do not start a new cabinet shop.
Who gave you that advice? Myself. The question was asked by a University of Montana student who wondered why I would want to take over the family business instead of starting a new shop.
Here’s what I’d like to do to improve my community: For Dovetail, I would like to continue to provide employment to our employees. My shop and home are on the South Side. We hope to continue to rebuild this historic section of Billings.
Aside from profit and loss, how do you measure success in your job? Every year in business is success.
Which living person do you most admire? Pope Francis (I’m not even Catholic).
What do you consider your greatest achievement? Surviving a family business.
I’m happiest when I’m… with my wife and kids.