The Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce’s decision to relocate from its current office space was primarily motivated by the rapid growth of Bighorn Design Studio and its partner, Bison Union Co., which share the building with the Chamber.
PJ Treide, who owns Bighorn Design Studio, and Bert Kuntz, who founded Bison Union with his wife, Candace, have grown their brands by offering a wide range of services and leveraging partnerships with different companies. The two businesses developed a partnership online.
Kuntz said he started Bison Union with his wife in Utah as an apparel company and became aware of Bighorn Design through the company’s social media presence. He said he watched a video of Bighorn’s embroidery process and reached out to Treide about producing Bison Union shirts and hats.
“Once we got here and met the team, it was a no-brainer,” Kuntz said. “We’ve used probably 15 companies that are pretty well known in the country and (Bighorn) was much better.”
Before long, Kuntz said he and his wife fell in love with Sheridan and decided to relocate their business and share space with Bighorn Design, which was already producing much of their merchandise.
Bighorn Design and Bison Union’s physical expansion is largely driven by e-commerce, which the companies have grown through social media and partnerships with like-minded companies. And though online orders can be impersonal transactions, Treide and Kuntz have worked to distinguish their companies by instilling those transactions with personality and a small-business ethic.
For instance, Treide said Bighorn’s order-fulfillment services focus on creating more of an experience for customers by shipping orders in distinctive packaging and including small bonuses, like brand stickers. Likewise, Kuntz said he and his wife include a handwritten note with every order they ship out and try to make themselves available for customer service.
With those personal touches, the companies have been able to distinguish themselves from companies like Amazon that ship products in standardized packaging.
“Right now more than ever I think people are longing for tangible businesses that they can actually touch,” Kuntz said.
Bison Union also plans to expand its coffee roasting operations into the former Studio Cafe space on the corner of Main Street and Grinnell Plaza. Bison Union has sold coffee through a partnership with Black Rifle Coffee Company, a veteran-owned small-batch coffee roaster based in Utah. Kuntz, who is a combat veteran himself, said he met the Black Rifle team through a mutual acquaintance and has partnered with the company to develop three Bison Union-branded coffees.
Kuntz said he traveled to Utah and worked with Black Rifle to choose roasts, and Black Rifle roasted the beans while Bison Union packaged, branded and marketed the coffee. The partnership with Black Rifle will continue as Bison Union expands its coffee roasting into the Studio Cafe space. Treide said he expects the new business to be a significant draw to Sheridan’s downtown.
“These guys get some amazing foot traffic already,” Treide said. “Some of their fans on social media come from miles and miles and miles away to come here, meet these guys, taste the coffee. I think we’re going to see a ton of that this summer as we launch (the coffee shop).”
The companies are working on renovating that building now but expect to have it open by early May.
Bighorn will take over the Chamber’s current offices around the same time. Treide said that space will be used to expand Bighorn’s production operations, and the space will be used to house new production equipment, allowing for increased production of Bighorn Design, Bison Union and Go Fast Don’t Die, another apparel company that operates out of the Main Street building, merchandise. Treide said he is also planning on adding new homegrown brands to the roster this summer and will be building out the fulfillment operations and inventory space in the basement to accommodate that expansion.