This shop has ‘MoFlow’ - Restless start

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Restless start
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“I restarted The Joinery because the guy who had bought it passed on. I didn’t get any of the tools or anything. I just said, well, the name is out there so I just grabbed it and started building furniture.”

Restless start
Like many woodworkers, Gaudin began his career working out of a garage as a one-man shop. But it wasn’t long before he hired his first employee. He opened a small shop, sold the building, bought a larger shop, sold that, and finally settled down about 11 years ago when he bought The Joinery’s current building. He admits to “probably having a few golden nuggets along the way in terms of real estate.”

Everyone has to start somewhere and, for Gaudin, the key phrase was “Futon furniture.” Although you won’t find any of it on The Joinery’s Web site today, it proved to be quite fruitful.

“In the get-go, my niche was Futon furniture — folding couches, all these different Futon-related items. I went into that with the concept of ‘I’m building the best one out there.’ We dovetailed all the joinery, we made stuff out of bird’s-eye maple, cherry and other hardwoods, but we built the high-end line. We actually had about 15 commercial accounts we sold to around the country. During that period, as the demand grew higher in Portland and the word got out, I started reducing my wholesale accounts — money was much better selling retail instead of wholesale, absolutely.”

Deliberate path
To understand the success of The Joinery, one must understand Gaudin’s business philosophy. He believes in slow, methodical planning, not going into debt, taking one step at a time, adding an employee to see how it goes and, as business improves, adding another employee or machine. It’s a very careful and cautious process.

“One of my greatest strengths is strategic. I have the ability to boil things down to the simple and not get too complex. Simplicity is going, ‘OK, are we going to build a bigger mousetrap? Well, what is the reason we need that?’ If we build it, I need to know exactly how it will be used prior to even thinking about the contractors and the costs. The ability to take things down to their simplest form is a great strength of mine.

“So things just kind of came. I have never bought machinery on time. I’ve always felt that we have to use modern machinery to create today’s furniture and, with the high quality that we have, there’s [also] much handwork involved with that.”

He credits a huge jump in business to when The Joinery moved to its present building in 1997 as “the economy was smoking pretty good.” Sales were abundant and The Joinery was the recipient of “ dollars” that flowed into the shop from employee bonus checks from Intel and other area companies.

Along the way, The Joinery became involved with the community, a commitment Gaudin continues to feel strongly about.

“Last year, 12 percent of our net profit went to [charities in the] community. We use 100 percent wind power here, we run two Meals on Wheels routes every week, we work with Friends of Trees; they plant trees all over the place.”

Product and design
The Joinery produces custom pieces along with four lines of stock furniture — Dunning, Pacific, Joinery [Shaker-style] and Modern. A previous line named Versailles has been discontinued. The stock lines can be modified to fit custom needs, and unique designs can be built from the ground up. The Joinery’s Web site contains a link to its Price Guide, a catalog of more than 300 pieces with photos, line art, dimensions and pricing for its standard collection items. Hardware, leather and fabric choices are also presented.