Decorators Supply Corp. Carves its Place in History

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  • Jan 18, 2017, 07:50 AM

(L-R) Cousins Steve Grage, Bill Denis and Jack Meingast keep the family business going strong. 

As a major ornamental plaster manufacturer for the Columbian Exhibition of 1893, Decorators Supply Corp. stays in the spotlight with its decorative moldings of all types, including the white buildings and halls.

Decorators Supply Corp. has been a Windy City staple since the “White City” came to town. The company makes classic architectural detailing from plaster and wood, including column capitals, molding, and other ornamental details.

The third-generation company can trace its beginnings back to 1883, blossoming from a carving and guilders business into a cast ornamental plaster manufacturer. Success in the ornamental plaster sector hoisted Decorators Supply into the spotlight as one of the manufacturers of decorative moldings for the buildings and halls of the Columbian Exhibition of 1893. The company drew inspiration from the hundreds of richly talented artists, sculptors, carvers, and craftsmen who visited Chicago that summer, with a legacy still seen in Decorators Supply’s products today.

Four years after the expo, in 1897, William Grage Sr. joined the company as an office boy. Just 17, Grage rose through the company, eventually purchasing it just before World War II. He continued to run the company with his three children until his death in 1978.

Today, Decorators Supply remains a family business that creates all custom, made-to-order pieces. Steve Grage, later joined by cousins Bill Denis and Jack Meingast, has been with the business since the 1971. During his time with Decorators Supply, the company has continued its legacy of traditional design by working with museums, with Disney Imagineering in Orlando, Canada, and Paris on various theaters, and on movie sets for films such as The Untouchables and Whitehouse Down. They are called on when a classic look is needed.

“Classic is the keyword,” Grage said.

Though its design style remains classic, Decorators Supply has developed and streamlined manufacturing and office techniques, something South Central Bank has helped with over the years. Bookkeeper Annette Cataura can make deposits directly from her desk with the remote deposit system and gets answers to operational questions promptly. “I get answers right away,” Cataura said.

“There is more contact working with a smaller, local bank like South Central Bank,” Grage added. “They work the way we like to work, with personal service.


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