Mingle mixes business and home design in Plymouth

  • Article by: TODD NELSON , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 7, 2013 - 10:06 AM

Peter Santrach's Mingle home design showroom in Plymouth offers a one-stop option he couldn’t find for his own remodeling project.

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President Peter Santrach and general manager Kelly Davert at Mingle, which features a 25,000-square-foot showroom with 118 home design vignettes. .

Photo: Joel Koyama, Star Tribune

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Veteran Twin Cities entrepreneur Peter Santrach has overseen many residential and commercial remodeling projects and now has completed perhaps the ultimate such makeover in creating Mingle, a cabinetry, furnishing and home design showroom in Plymouth.

Nearly every square inch of Mingle’s 25,000-square-foot showroom serves as a display area, even offices and restrooms, including the one with 13 shower heads, all available for a test soak. Nearly every piece of cabinetry, furniture and lighting, every fixture, floor covering, countertop and accessory is something you can buy.

Santrach has poured more than a year of effort and millions of dollars into designing, decorating and furnishing the Mingle showroom, completely renovating a building that once housed a painting and drywall company. The showroom features 118 “vignettes” or settings with traditional, contemporary and transitional options for every room in a house.

The showroom includes a “live” kitchen for cooking classes and events, video of which can be shown on screens throughout the store. Visitors who want to unwind can try out the showroom’s bar, wine room, home theater and billiards room, general manager Kelly Davert said.

Mingle, which has 25 employees, had a soft opening in mid-December and is planning a grand opening May 1-5. Santrach, now working to raise awareness of the showroom, is projecting revenue of $4 million to $6 million this year based on sales so far in 2013. Vendor partners include Minnesota cabinetmaker Dura Supreme and quartz countertop maker Cambria.

The Mingle name, Santrach said, underscores the showroom’s mix of products and design services, available from an in-house design firm. He also believes it describes the way customers will explore or mingle within the room settings and gain inspiration for a kitchen or bathroom update or a whole-house remodel. Mingle will help fill a void in the western suburbs, where several appliance and cabinet dealers have closed in recent years, Santrach said. He believes the store will benefit as homeowners increase spending on remodeling as the economy strengthens.

Santrach hopes Mingle’s one-stop home design shopping experience will help spare homeowners some of the frustrations he has endured in planning past projects, including a 2008 home renovation.

“I got tired of lugging my wife’s plastic box of tile samples, fabrics and pictures from showroom to showroom to make all of the selections for our remodeling project,” Santrach said. “I would have had a much better experience if I could come to one place, explained our project to one person ... and then have them propose a solution to us.”

The inspiration for Mingle’s one-stop shopping approach came from Mingle senior cabinet designer Michelle Bloyd, former owner of Cabinet Concepts and Interiors in Eden Prairie. Santrach, a longtime customer, bought that company’s assets after it closed in 2011.

Santrach’s other ventures include a tech company he started in 1986 after four years at Control Data Corp. and part ownership of commercial tile and carpet installation companies.

Sandra Meyer, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, said the Mingle showroom made a positive impression when the organization hosted its holiday mixer there.

“You really have to see it; you have to be in it to believe it,” Meyer said. “What Kelly and her team have put together is very refreshing.”

Customer Monica Sadar met weekly with Mingle staff for months to plan the design, cabinetry and furnishings of a new Minnetonka home.

“It was a treat working with people that really know what they’re talking about,” Sadar said. “They never told you what you should or should not have but they guided you once you explained to them what you were looking for.”

Jayne Termaat said she was impressed with Mingle’s design and cabinetry work in large-scale remodeling projects at her Sioux Falls home and a Brainerd Lakes-area cabin.

“It was amazing how they reworked the space and gave us the kind of look we wanted,” Termaat said.

The expert says: Lorman Lundsten, professor and chairman of the Marketing Department at the University of St. Thomas’ Opus College of Business, said Mingle likely will need to look to expand its customer base, possibly by serving as a wholesaler to contractors whose clients would want products that Mingle sources.

“They’ve got a multimillion-dollar investment in this wonderful showroom,” Lundsten said. “The real question to me is can they keep the showroom busy with their actual clients and do enough actual business ... to make that facility pay off?”

 

Todd Nelson is a freelance writer in Woodbury. His e-mail address is todd_nelson@mac.com.

  • MINGLE

    Business: Independent home design center offers one-stop shopping for cabinetry, furnishings and interior design services in a 25,000-square-foot showroom.

    Founded: 2011

    Headquarters: Plymouth

    Website: www.mingleteam.com

    Employees: 25

    Executives: Peter Santrach, president; Kelly Davert, general manager

    2013 estimated revenue: $4 million to $6 million

    Strategy: Raise awareness of Mingle, its expansive showroom, and mix of products and design services

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