ENGADINE, Mich. (WJMN) – The hottest spot in the Upper Peninsula might very well be the tiny town of Engadine. It’s home to a business that likes to turn up the heat.
Upper Peninsula Sauna Company founder Zeak DeWyse got the idea of building a sauna in the shape of a barrel from an inflight magazine article he read many years ago. Fast forward to 2014 when a construction client wanted an affordable sauna built in his home, Zeak remembered the barrel sauna design and the rest is a small-town success story.
“So, I threw the idea of this barrel sauna, and he said, ‘Well, how much we talking?’ And so I put some numbers to it, and he said, ‘You know what? I’ll take one,’” said DeWyse.
A typical Sauna installed in a home can cost as much as $70,000, but Zeak knew he could build a barrel sauna for less than a 1/10 of that price. So, Zeak built one for his client and three more to test the market. Those three sold in less than a month, and Upper Peninsula Sauna Company was off and running.
“And all of a sudden our office got bombarded,” recalled DeWyse. “Literally calls, calls, calls, calls, calls.”
Since its founding, Zeak’s sauna company continues to improve upon its designs with great success.
“And we actually went in and retooled and we’re a true barrel, you know, what we say a bulge in the center, you know, which change our staves and so that, that process is totally different than everybody else’s from everything that I can see,” said DeWyse.
Not only are his handmade saunas affordable, portable, and can fit into just about any space, but they are also made from U.P. materials, using only local labor.
“We love these small U.P. sources,” said DeWyse. “Whether it’s we already went to all local carpenters, our stoves are welded up here locally by a fabricator. So small town E.U.P raw material that’s what we like.”
The village of Engadine was originally a town of Coopers or Barrel Makers making it the perfect home for his company. But why was it Barrel shaped?
“The process of building a bulged sauna is a little more complicated than a cylinder but it looked better and lasts longer,” said DeWyse. “The shape stays better, sheds water better, all those kinds of things.”
Zeak believes in all the benefits of the sauna experience, but at nearly 200 degrees, it might just be an acquired taste.
“It’s an experience,” said DeWyse. “It’s a meditation. I mean, you can relax and let your muscles relax. Your heart rate rises, and you have to work on your breathing. It’s really good for you because it forces you to focus on yourself for a few minutes.”
So, what is Zeak most proud of?
“My people,” said DeWyse. “As I said, I believe we’ve been gifted by God these people, they’re great. They came here, they came to me and want to work for us in Engadine, and that’s what we produce. We produce it with our hands and our people. I think that’s special; I really do in Engadine.”
So, if you like it hot, I mean really hot, the place to be is in an Upper Peninsula Sauna.