A manufacturer of screens for homes, backyards, large venues and golf simulators plans to start building a new 56,250-square-foot facility next month.
The new home of Carl’s Place will be on northwest corner of Putman Parkway and County M. The Milton City Council approved a tax increment financing agreement last month, and the project is expected to be finished by the end of the year.
“Carl” is Milton resident Carl Markestad, who in 2006 was looking for a large outdoor movie screen and had trouble finding the size he wanted. He then discovered he wasn’t the only one.
Carl’s Place focuses on the do-it-yourself market. Early on, it was even more DIY, selling only materials for people who wanted to build screens.
Today, the business offers projector screen material, finished-edge screens, hanging screen kits, standing screen kits, rear projection hanging kits, golf simulator enclosure kits, and other theater and golf simulator products.
Most Carl’s Place customers can add a projector and a home theater screen to their basement in a weekend, depending on what kind of wiring is needed and how handy they are. Last year, during the pandemic and safer-at-home order, more people tried their hand at being handy.
With golf courses closed for a while, Markestad said spring was a little busier for golf simulator products.
“The bigger bump that we saw was probably from people wanting to do outdoor drive-in-type movie screens,” he said. “We had a lot of inquiries from places trying to set up drive-ins. That was the easily identifiable spike last spring and summer.”
At the beginning of 2020, he said, “we were expecting pretty solid growth, but it was probably double what we thought it would be.”
He said Carl’s Place fills hundreds of orders in a week—and sometimes thousands.
While customers worldwide interact with the business via its website, Carl’s Place needs lots of room for its operations and employees behind the scenes.
Markestad began working on his dream full time in 2010. This year will be the second time the business has moved and expanded in Milton.
In 2015, Carl’s Place relocated from a 5,000-square-foot building at 1223 Storrs Lake Road to 1400 E. High St., where it is now. At the start of 2020, the building was 12,000 square feet; today, it is 24,000 square feet.
“Growth happens slow and steady but also to the point where it catches you by surprise sometimes,” Markestad said.
“You go from thinking you’ll never need any more space to feeling like we’re totally crowded here. It’s definitely a good challenge. I’m pretty proud of my team and what we’ve all been able to accomplish.”
The business currently employs about 25 people, and that number will grow, Markestad said.
The new site has room to expand the building by about 90,000 square feet.
“We manufacture big sheets of fabric, so the tables to lay the fabric out on are big,” he said. “Our people who sew each have a big table space to spread their work out on.”
A golf screen, for example, is about 10 feet tall and 16 feet wide.
While a lot is going on at 1400 E. High St., not everyone in the area knows about it. Carl’s Place doesn’t send employees to people’s homes for consulting, design or installation, but it is in the business of educating its customers.
“We try to help the customer with all the hardest decisions and hardest items to find or to assemble,” Markestad said. “From there, we kind of leave it all to them to put it together.”