This shop has ‘MoFlow’ - All about the wood

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The Dunning style is an Arts and Crafts, Mission-influenced style; the Joinery style is similar to Shaker furniture; the Pacific style is almost like the Mission style with an Asian touch to it; and the Modern series features smooth and uninterrupted surfaces with sleek metal pulls for a modern, minimalist look. Selections include items for the bedroom, dining room, living room and office.

“We do use AutoCAD [for design purposes], but Inventor is our next little project; it seems to be working quite well,” says Gaudin. “We can generate cut lists, make changes, and they change within the cut list. So when we change the size of a table top, it changes all the corresponding parts, which means no mistakes.”

The Joinery has a 6,000-sq.-ft., two-floor showroom that adjoins the 13,000-sq.-ft. shop area. With about 5 percent of sales generated through its Web site, the showroom is critical to the company’s success.

“About 95 percent of our sales generate right out of our showroom. We have sales people that are knowledgeable on the furniture, how it is put together; there are interior designers and we also have a few designers that have been trained in furniture design or the CAD applications.”

Asked if The Joinery is known for any signature pieces, Gaudin quips, “there’s too many.

“This year, the economy has slowed down and we have felt that pinch. We feel it both ways, when it’s good and when it’s bad. I am very concerned … one thing is we’ll always offer the products, but we’re weeding out, we’re simplifying, we’re going with our top sellers and 20 percent of our product line has been pitched.”

All about the wood
Much of the materials used by The Joinery come from the Collins Companies, a longtime Portland-based supplier of sustainable domestic woods such as cherry, maple, poplar and white oak. Gaudin describes it as an “awesome relationship” and adds that the Collins Companies is the first place he always looks for lumber.

“When I first started, one in 100 asked about certified wood. Today, five in 100 may, but it’s added value to our customer. We build heirlooms, things that can be passed on generation to generation, and that’s the best use of wood in my opinion.”

Portland is known as one of the “greener” areas in the country. Using sustainable wood when possible is a trademark of The Joinery and the practice is partially responsible for the success of the company. But using wood from sustainable forests doesn’t make Gaudin a fan of the Forest Stewardship Council.

“We were FSC certified for over 10 years,” he states. “For 10 years, we followed those rules and regulations. Every year, there was some little added thing we had to do and guess what? We’re a for-profit company. I didn’t see the Forest Stewardship Council do jack for us; I didn’t see it when I put [out] the $10,000 a year to maintain it, the $2,000 or so to be certified, and all that extra work that goes along with that. Finally, I said, ‘You know what? We’re not going to be certified anymore.’ ”

Gaudin has developed an affinity for Pacific madrone, which features a wide range of colors and grows in northern California and southern Oregon. Only about 1 percent of The Joinery’s wood usage is with exotics, such as lacewood, bubinga or wenge.

The perfect employee
Since The Joinery opened, Gaudin estimates he has had more than 200 employees come and go through his shop. By the sheer numbers, he has come to recognize the type of employee he wants and, conversely, the type he wants to avoid. By a process of eliminating the types of employees he hasn’t liked during the past, he has come up with a formula for what makes a good employee. He’s even taken the extra step of going back through his files and categorizing his previous employees.

“There is a certain person with a mind-set who loves to build wood,” he says. “They may have experience in woodworking, but very little experience at working in a shop like this. This is college.