Operating a Cedar Furniture Factory
Nick may be fixing tools, building picnic tables, visiting dealers or helping customers on any given day. His folks own the company, but he runs it. Since middle school Nick has worked in their family-run business, first a garden center and later building cedar furniture. Now he oversees everything and keeps the family mentality in both making and selling goods. "We all work well together. Everyone here wears different hats. It's a close-knit group." That approach leads to a happy team able to accomplish their goal of making high-quality furniture. As Nick says, "They build it like it's going in their house".
How did you get into your craft?
"I've always had an interest in woodworking. Dad started a garden center and I started working there starting in middle school. We stocked this cedar furniture. Opportunity came up to purchase the company (started in 1928), so we did. My background was retail and wholesale, I did woodworking as a hobby. Now I do it as a profession."
Nick talked a lot about heart and about the keys to having a good team. "No one has the mentality that 'this is all I make'. Everyone helps out. Everyone lends a hand." As his staff and fellow carpenters slowly and carefully, he emphasized, build each new product, they create furniture noticeably better than what you typically find in shopping centers. "They take pride in what they do. They are all skilled craftsmen."
What do you look forward to the most in your work?
"Time in the shop is best part of day. Building something, making something with your hands. That's the best part."
Nick also took joy in how enduring their product is. "We get calls for replacement parts, for instance a broken arm on a swing that was purchased in 1980. The cedar lasts."
What would you say to a young person who wants to do what you do?
"Any person going into any type of business, whether you are working the floor or managing, find a way to enjoy what you're doing. It's not really a JOB when you get up and love what you're doing. Respect... treat people like you'd want to be treated. That makes for a very pleasant workplace. There's nothing worse than arguing with people all day. When everyone gets along it's easy to love what you do." "We take a hands-on, family approach to business. We strive for giving the customer the product they're expecting and the service they deserve. Surround yourself good people and you're set up for success."