There is a really great thing about my job that I get to witness frequently. It’s that there is a real perceptible connection between the client, us, their products that we’ve made and it’s effect on one another. I always invite folks to come to the shop and see their projects coming to life and to meet my two employees, Michael Hedges and Jeff Kloppel. Two of the main reasons for the success that I’ve had lies in their capable and skilled hands. Together we form a small team of creative, attention oriented conscientious individuals aiming to build to a high level with good sustainable materials.
At the College of the Redwoods where I went to Fine Woodworking school the teachers always said “leave your finger prints”. I’ve always liked this. To me it means that it has our detectible (and undetectable) handcrafted touch all over each particular project. I like knowing that the clients knows who took the care to fit or scribe something just right or matched the grain graphics to highlight a particular aspect of something or any number of other distinctive decisions that leaves a personal artistic touch.
I also like to make a point to mention that when you do business with us, from a very personal “buying local” standpoint, you directly know whose livelihood you’re supporting and sustaining. It’s really important this not get lost in the shuffle of the process. It’s literal. If not for our clientele we wouldn’t be doing what we love doing for a living and that is making beautiful highly functioning things out of wood.
So often there exists a complete disconnect between the buyer and the maker and in our case I really try to make it a point to facilitate this connection that I hope our clients really see and feel. It becomes part of the experience that deepens the satisfaction and distinguishes itself from merely blindly consuming. It’s analogous to going to a farmers market and buying food from the farmer.
Since we are Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)certified with it’s Chain of Custody (CoC) guidelines (an ability to trace ones wood back to it’s origins. More on FSC later) and that we like to promote local wood products we can also show where their wood comes from. In some cases we can take them to the actual forest where the trees were reverently felled. Now some people don’t need or want this level of attention and connection to their projects but rarely have I come across folks who didn’t appreciate having the trust and knowledge that this is a sustainable approach building. I liken it to fair trade and organic all rolled into one.
When I was in my younger days I worked as a leader of high schooled aged crews building trails in National Forest across the West for an environmental group called Student Conservation Association (SCA). I had a mentor on my first trip when I was 23. He was a really grounded and well balanced older individual that I looked up to a lot and I can remember something he was imparting and discussing with the kids. One afternoon at lunch high up on the Continental Divided Trail that we were maintaining in Southwestern Montana he said that “one of the most powerful things you can voice is voting with your pocket book”. That in essence you can chose to support something with your money and that in turn will help it into perpetuity. This has stuck with me ever since. At the risk of sounding to dramatic the obvious point I make is that we do have a choice on how we spend our money. Sometimes it’s not an easy or simple choice and people with money have less limitations and vice versa but there exist this choice. I like to think that we represent a choice that has these distinct qualities consciously woven into them for folks that are concerned about what they buy; what it consists of, where does it come from, who it supports and who makes it.
Lastly, I imagine the thought “sounds pretty expensive” may have crossed your mind at some point while reading this. I think you may be surprised. Having people you hire that really care about what they produce and who are intimately involved with the projects from the beginning all the way to the installation while working with terrific local wood products does not have to be exorbitantly costly. There are a lot of good wood workers and cabinet shops out there that care and do really nice work as we do that we are extremely competitive with in terms of costs. The advantage I think we have and what makes us so unique is this complete package and outlook that I’m alluding to. What is that exactly? I will start outline that in in greater detail in the forth coming posts.