Starting a custom woodworking shop in the struggling Florida market may have seemed foolhardy in 2011. But Grand Woodworking has taken a unique approach as it literally carved out its niche — one that involves using profile knives.
Grand Woodworking was started in 2010 by Neil Heuer, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, and Eddie Martin, a woodworker accomplished in fine residential interiors. Their paths crossed as Martin remodeled Heuer’s home, and the two hatched a plan to start an architectural millwork company in the Naples, FL, market.
“Eddie actually did a job for me building my home theater,” says Heuer. “We became quick friends and I learned about his capabilities. He had a desire to be his own boss and to be aggressive. Given my entrepreneurial spirit, we decided to pursue this business.” That was in April 2011; the new shop was up and running by July 2011.
As Martin and Heuer laid the framework for the company — providing kitchens and baths, organizational projects like libraries and wine storage, architectural millwork and commercial projects — market conditions began to weigh on their investment decisions.
“When setting up the shop and purchasing equipment we kept in mind the economy as a major factor,” Martin says. “You just can’t get the same money that you could eight years ago. So our key was to produce the highest quality piece for the most cost effective price.”
According to Heuer, “Ninety-nine percent of the equipment is refurbished. This was a motivating factor for us to start this business during the economic lull.”
Pursuing residential architectural millwork as the southern Florida real estate market declined more than 60 percent also lead to leaning on renovations and remodeling, which is a major revenue stream for the company.
“People are renovating their bathrooms and kitchens like we have never seen before,” says Martin. In Naples, he says, estate owners use millwork and other fine woodworking to distinguish themselves and their properties. “It’s no longer ‘low end’ or ‘medium end’ — it’s exclusively ‘high end’. That’s where Grand Woodworking fits in.”
Carving a Niche
This reality has boosted business for Grand who are often called upon to match or extend fine woodworking from solo contractors in high-end homes and businesses.