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This article first appeared in issue 13, and was written by Ed Waggener.
Native woodworking firm expands
with direct sales, new trim operation
Old Craftsman Furniture & Cabinet Shop, 3511 Holmes Bend Road, Columbia, has been in the furniture and cabinet business since 1980. The company is growing with a simple philosophy: Selling high-end products at a medium price.
That philosophy has propelled company through 17 years of growth and positioned it to become a very important player in Adair County's growing wood products industry.
Today, Old Craftsman Furniture & Cabinet Shop produces fine cherry reproduction furniture, entertainment centers, novelty and miniature items for sale through its showroom and other outlets and custom items produced to customer specifications.
And now, although they aren't quaking yet, the huge trim manufacturers in Taylor County have new competition in Columbia.
Last year, Old Craftsman Furniture & Cabinet Shop owners Greg and Nevis Redford formed Old Craftsman Custom Trim Molding, Incorporated, with one additional shareholder, Marty and Denise Glanzer, Greensburg. Glanzer taught industrial arts for years and has a woodworking background. The trim company shares the same location as the furniture and cabinet shop.
The heart of the new business is an SMI Molder. The $50,000 machine was installed last year and is already proving its worth to the company. Several Adair County homes have trim packages manufactured by Old Craftsman Custom Trim & Molding.
Greg Redford believes that Old Craftsman is already competitive in price and quality with the Campbellsville firms, Cox Interiors and Wholesale Hardwood Interiors. Old Craftsman's thrust is toward direct sales to homebuilders and contractors.
Generally, the molding packages for homes has been running in the $4-5,000 range, he says.
Notably, that figure is in line with the top end of some of the home entertainment centers Old Craftsman Furniture & Cabinet Shop has built, Redford says. These units have mostly been marketed through the company's showroom on the busy Holmes Bend Road. Old Craftsman customers come from as wide a catchment area as that of Holmes Bend Boat Dock, Greg Redford believes.
Location a marketing tool
The Redfords say that the location they chose for their business, on busy Holmes Bend Road, has had much to do with their success. "In the past 3 years," Greg Redford says, "we've picked up a number of sales from out-of-town buyers." This is business that grows on itself, he says. "We get a lot of repeat business," he said. "For instance, a couple in Bowling Green bought two tables and a chest. They liked what we delivered, and then they came back and bought a dresser and desks."
Direct sales are made in the company's small showroom, which is slated for expansion later this year. Most days, there will be dressers, a large bedroom suite, some doll furniture, and maybe a linen chest or entertainment on display. Items not on current exhibit can be shopped from the company's catalog pages.
The plant is located in a large modern plant located on a wooded 4.5 acre portion of 7 acres Redford bought from the late Charlie Hardesty. The Redford's beautiful modern residence sets in the other 2.5 acres across the road. "I saw a house like ours on a delivery trip in Eastern Kentucky. Nevis and I talked it over and decided to build a similar one, but from our own design." Although the major construction on the house was done by contractors, the Redfords did much of the interior work themselves.
Today's Old Craftsman plant is a far cry from the small shed the Redfords started in. "There were cracks in the walls in that building that let snow come in," Greg Redford remembers. The original part of today's 10M sq. ft. plant was built in 1982. In 1990, the showroom, office, trim manufacturing and storage addition, and loading dock were built, doubling the plant area.
With the house directly across the street from the showroom, the Redfords don't have to be open to be open. If a car stops in front of the showroom on the weekends, they try to be available to open up and talk to prospective buyers.
Another source of marketing assistance is the State of Kentucky. "They're pushing wood products," Redford says. "They're being a big help to all of us in the industry." The State was helpful in getting Old Craftsman invitations to come to the QVC buying show two times. This year, the Redfords showed their doll beds and quilt racks. Although they were not selected for the national show this year, Redford says that he learns more about marketing with each trip.
A novelty item the company manufactures, little wooden clocks designed by Jonathan Redford, are now in all the state parks. The designs include triangles, pyramids, and juke box clocks.
Proud of local market
Fellow Adair Countians are among the Redford's most loyal customers. "When Holmes Bend put in the four new cabins," Greg remembers, "they had us to do all the cabinet work." Janice Butler, co-owner of Holmes Bend with husband David Butler, says that Old Craftsman has never let them down. "We buy everything we can locally," Mrs. Butler says. "We find it is good business. The Redfords do high quality work at fair prices. We're planning to add another eight cabins later this year and when we do, Old Craftsman will be at the top of our list of suppliers."
The heavy traffic to Holmes Bend contributes a major portion of Old Craftsman's business, and the Redfords reciprocate by referring vacationers to Holmes Bend when they go to furniture shows across the country. And their networking also includes other Adair County businesses. Quite often, he says, the same people looking for furniture are also interested in other Adair County crafts, in antiques, restaurants, and lodging. "We need to work together," he said, adding, "It's good business."
industry for Adair County
Through the years, Greg Redford says, the business has had its ups and downs, but overall he is happy with the growth of the company. "Like all businesses, we've had our ups and downs, but overall, we've happy with the results."
Greg Redford is on the Board of Directors of Kentucky Wood Products Association in Frankfort, whose goal is to promote Kentucky Wood Products and businesses related to wood products. Through it, Redford has promoted Adair County as a place for other woodcrafters to locate. "I have a friend on the KWP board from Winchester, who likes Columbia and has been wanting to locate a plant here. I told him he wouldn't find better people to work with than he would find in Adair County. Maybe one day he will locate here-you never know."
Still, he believes that much of the growth should happen within Adair County. Woodworking businesses are capital intensive. Equipment and plants are costly. Payscales in the industry are relatively high, and workman's compensation for woodworking industries are among the highest. "But the rewards are high. Look at what they've done in Campbellsville. If good financing for local people is provided, and if new local woodworking firms are given the same breaks that foreign companies locating here would get, I see a good future for Adair Countians in the business."
He adds, "Maybe it's just me, but the way I see it is that foreign companies will just take what they can and leave. If the owners live here, that's different-the profits stay here."
He shares the hope of many Adair County leaders that one day the majority of the timber harvested in Adair County will leave here as a finished products. And he is optimistic that local lumber concerns will one day have the kiln capacity to deliver all the raw materials for his products, although that is not the case today.
Largely a family operation
Old Craftsman is a family operation, for the most part. Greg and Nevis Redford, are the sole owners of Old Craftsman Furniture and Cabinet Shop.
Redford grew up in Knifley, the son of the late Lonnie and Shirley Redford..
Mrs. Redford, Nevis, is the treasurer of the company. She is the daughter of Johnny and Catherine Hitch, Sulphur Creek.
Greg's younger brother, Terry, also works full time in the production department.
Greg and Nevis' sons Jonathan and Josh Redford make the fifth generation of their family in the woodworking business. Jon-athan, 21, graduates in June from Louisville Tech with a diploma in computer aided design and will be back at Old Craftsman. Josh is a fifth grader at John Adair Middle School in Columbia, but his parents suspect that he, too, will likely be in the business one day.
Greg Redford grew up in the business. "I have sawdust in my veins," he says.
His uncles were a great help. One, Jessie Callahan, is still in the furniture business with a shop in Elkhorn, in Taylor County. Three of them, Norman Faulkner, Garnett Humphress, and Charlie Callahan, have since passed on, but Greg Redford remembers the start they gave him in the business. "They were-all of them-a great help."
On the trim and molding side, at Old Craftsman Custom Trim and Molding, leadership is shared between the two shareholders, the Redfords and the Glanzers. Greg Redford is President; Marty Glanzer is vice president; Nevis Redford is treasurer; and Denise Glanzer is secretary.
This story was posted on 1997-05-05 12:01:01
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