fort houston

Woodworking Collectives Let Small Shops Compete on Scale

  Woodworking Network has reported regularly on the rise in woodshop collectives springing up around the country. Examples include Fort Houston in Nashville, which was supported by machinery grants from Jet Tools; Dock6 in Chicago; or the TechShop chain of public work centers spotted around major U.S. cities. Some of the collectives support a shared manufacturing base. Others are marketing collectives, or a mix of both. Editor Matt Schumake highlights the Vermont Woods Studios, a collective for marketing custom furniture builders in the Green Mountain State. (Read about it in the August 2014 issue of Custom Woodworking Business.) Schumake - who is also, by the way, a professional woodworker - let us know about another collective, Dock 6, in Chicago, which co-markets and co-manufactures furniture. These operations are a a bit like, but on a smaller scale. A new addition to this scene is, launched by investment managers Charlie Miner and John Neamonitis in Brooklyn, NY. The two say they started WorkOf as a website that would connect independent furniture makers with buyers. Both worked at New York-based financial research firm Sanford C. Bernstein, where the two launched the idea for WorkOf out of a mutual frustrations with the state of the furniture industry. Miner grew up working and traveling with his uncle, renowned New York City furniture designer, Tucker Robbins. He saw first hand the difficulties that emerging furniture makers faced in scaling their businesses.   Neamonitis says after furnishing a new apartment in early 2013, he was exhausted by the process of discovery and the difficulties in finding well-made, authentic pieces. Over beers, he and Miner began discussing the early concept for WorkOf. They spent that summer traveling Brooklyn to build the early community and launched the first version of the site with 6 makers in January 2014.