Contract Design Associates of Missoula celebrates 40 years in businesses

Contract Design Associates celebrates 40 years in business. (Courtesy photo)

In retrospect, it may not have been the best time to start a business from scratch, recalled Jill Butterworth.

She and her late husband, Bruce, had opened Contract Design Associates – a commercial furniture dealership in Spokane, Washington – on April 22, 1980. Less than a month later, Mount St. Helens blew.

“So we stayed home, played Risk and drank beer for two weeks,” said Butterworth. “We struggled.”

In fact, the couple lived with Bruce’s mother, and Jill worked a second job as a cocktail waitress to help make ends meet. And yet 2020 marks 40 years in business for a company that’s known around the region simply as “CDA.”

Gwen Marlow, who with Bruce and Jill’s son, Jared, purchased the company in 2018, points to the employees – several of whom have been with CDA for decades – as one of the reasons for their success.

“It started with two interior designers, which remains a key differentiator,” she said. “We have nine on staff today. We also have our own installation team, which really sets us apart.”

They also named work ethic as a reason for the success.

“Many of my childhood memories are of my parents curating fabric samples, creating installation plans and spending late nights in the office,” said Jared Butterworth. “I learned about commercial furniture by watching my parents work diligently to grow the business.”

As a teen, Jared put that knowledge to work – or more accurately, his father put Jared to work in the CDA warehouse, where he learned how to assemble product, manage a warehouse and interact with customers.

“It wasn’t glamorous,” he said. “But it was an essential foundation.”

After moving to Missoula to attend college and then establishing roots here, Jared jumped at the opportunity to expand the business into the Montana market in 2012 – and spent the next eight years focused on growing its operations across the state.

“Montana is a place that meant a great deal to my parents,” he said. “I’m proud to be a part of CDA’s history, and I feel incredibly lucky to bring that legacy to this market.”