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Zongkers Custom Furniture Built to Last

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Working and planning inside Zongkers Custom Woods. (Jacob Baker - NSN Business)

March 26, 2022
(Jacob Baker - NSN Business)

Zongkers Custom Woods, located in Omaha’s Little Italy district, is one of the nation's premier custom furniture makers. The business began over 30 years ago in 1989 as a side-project. Co-Owners and brothers, Dennis and Dan Zongker, began solely as cabinet makers. In their free time, they worked out of their basement, starting with custom cabinets while also offering carvings, Dennis’s passion.

Zongkers wood working equipment (Jacob Baker - NSN Business)

The brothers had a slow start to the business. Unlike long-gone times where furniture was built to last, markets in 1989 favored less expensive, self-assembled furniture. Breaking the mold was and is a challenge for the Zongkers. However, they have always held a faithful clientele.

Before and during COVID, Zongkers began to advertise on KFAB, a local radio station. This advertising, along with the quality of their wood-working, propelled them to the forefront of the high-end furniture market. The business has grown from the two brothers into an 11-man furniture business, and has sold pieces to 45 out of 50 states and seven countries.  

At Zongkers, no two pieces are the same, and each order is custom-made to the customer's specifications and visions. The brothers communicate with the customer throughout the build, designing each blueprint themselves.

The brothers source their wood from several distributors around the area. All of their excess wood is stored below the shop.

Zongkers workshop (Jacob Baker - NSN Business)

They take tremendous pride in their specialty: carvings. Dennis’s intricate work has been featured in multiple articles and magazines. He also has carvings at the Cloisters on the Platte, a multi-million dollar religious retreat center in Gretna, NE. Carving statues is an intensive process that begins with a simple idea. Next, they create a clay sculpture to visualize the final product fully. Finally, they carve wood into the image of the sculpture.

Many sculptures reflect the brother's Christian values, such as multiple Joseph the Carpenter and Mother Mary creations.

On the difference between IKEA-style furniture and Zongkers, Dennis said,  “IKEA furniture is throw-away furniture that can only last as long as you baby it. Our furniture is made by hand to last for 100 years, granted no natural disaster happens.”

Zongkers furniture carries a far heftier price tag than your average IKEA purchase. The cost is calculated from the man hours needed to plan, purchase materials, carve and finish the project.

The original mascot for the business is a full-maned lion holding a shield emblemized with a Z. Many of the personal pieces for Zongkers still have the lion decal. However, the mascot was retired after confusion with the Henry Doorly Zoo.

As one of the nation's premier custom furniture makers, they make quality a commandment. The brothers handle high-end deliveries themselves, such as a side table for a New York condo. They also deliver all local creations personally. Zongkers has a lifetime warranty on all furniture, but rarely is that needed.

Zongkers Custom Woods is an Omaha establishment continuing a near-forgotten trade. In the era of “throwaway” furniture, Zongkers provides durable, handmade works of art in the form of furniture. With a catalog as large as you can dream, the creations are endless. -30-

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