We had the good fortune of connecting with Dan and Carol Graupensperger and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dan and Carol, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Basically we fell into the business we have now. I was a firefighter for 36 years but also had a cabinet business for about 25 of those years. As time went on the cabinet business grew and customers asked me to make non traditional wood based items. I have made wooden ladders, reconstructed wooden chassis for antique cars, and display stands for Olympic torches. When I retired in 2011 I still liked woodworking so I was doing small odd jobs but nothing serious. During that year a friend of Carol’s who was in charge of administering a holiday boutique for a local charity asked me if I would make some cutting boards and trays to sell at the annual Christmas Boutique. We sold everything I made the first day, We kind of had an “aha” moment that this could become a business and so Pacific Mountain Woodworks was born. Fast forward to 2019 we as a husband and wife team are working full time to keep up with the demand from artisan show sales. Then 2020 hit and the shows stopped so we adapted and opened an Etsy shop. It has been an interesting evolution. One of the great things about what we do is the interaction with different people. Taking what we have learned from our customers and using that knowledge to make our products better.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Our shop is a reflection of who we both are. We like the things in our home to work well, be made well and when possible be beautiful to look at. No matter what you are doing in your home, from cooking to working on the computer, good tools make that job easier and inspire you to do it better. Our goal is to make things you use daily give you a little joy when you use them. One thing that sets us apart is that we don’t specialize in one type of wood product. While we don’t have a CNC machine, we have every other woodworking tools in common use today, and the knowledge to use them. This breadth of ability means we can, and have made everything from door stops to tables to chairs to bowls candle holders. Todays work schedule is a perfect example, I started out the morning making parts for customers commission for a console table, then I made two dozen small picture frames for a local artist and finished the day applying the final coat of finish on a series of remote holders. As a business owner this keeps it interesting but also limits how big we can grow. Our diversity is fun but it also means mass producing products will never happen. For us as a couple running a business I have learned that if Carol has a strong feeling about something we should probably follow that feeling. When I was doing cabinets it was just me in the shop and I made all the decisions. When we started working together it took a few” I told you so “episodes for me to get in the groove of true collaboration. Now some our best days are when we are developing a new product and we bounce ideas off each other.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
The City of Orange is a smallish University town. However, the downtown Plaza area is a great place to spend some time. There are many small interesting restaurants and pubs. There are also a few breweries within a few minutes of downtown.. In the summer there are concerts in the park that are held outside on a grassy area so you can bring a picnic and listen to live music. There are a couple of small live theaters like the Maverick in Fullerton and in Costa Mesa the South Coast Repertory Theatre. Chapman University has the Musco Center that hosts a variety of concerts, theatre and speaking guests. If you like the out of doors there are five regional parks either in or next to Orange. There are many miles of mountain biking trails that connect the regional parks. If you like the ocean, Newport Beach is just 30 min. away with any form beach activity there is. If you want amusement parks we are next door to Disneyland, Angel Stadium, etc.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
We both got our work ethic from our parents. Dan’s father built custom homes, this sparked his interest in woodworking.. Carols mother was a very creative person who inspired Carol”s creative side. A lot of our inspiration comes from our customers. Some of our ideas are a direct result of conversations with our customers. Most of the items we make are for daily use in the home. Often a customer will see something we have in our booth and during the discussion of how we came up with the design, an entirely new product will be born. This process has continued with customers on our Etsy shop. The desire to collaborate with another person on a creative endeavor has not been stopped by COVID. Because of our business we have made connections with other creative people who have inspired us to take chances with design. Brent at Spectrum Oaks and Mike at Bowl Maker Inc. have given me the guts to sacrifice a little expensive material to create a better design. Prior to meeting these two, maximizing the use of the wood drove the design.
Other: www.etsy.com/pacificmountainwood Business email- email@example.com
Image Credits Photographer: Bradley Johnson @quartersawnshop Photographer: Matthew Hulet @matthewhulet