HEAD OF THE CLASS –
Davis noted that as someone who grew up doing this type of work, the most satisfying part is right after you complete the set-up and installation of a project.
“You get five minutes to sit back and look at it and see what you have done,” he said. In his lumber work, the logs would come in and the boards would go out and there was never the level of satisfaction for a completed job. “You get five minutes of glory once a month,” he said.
Davis taps into his years in the lumber industry to get the quality material needed for his clients. He said about 90% of what they use is red oak.
He noted that it’s versatile, accepting stains to match many different hues and provides a good price point for clients. The company also gets into the use of exotic wood for specific applications from their clients.
Like many other skilled trades, Davis said having a trained workforce is a major challenge. “Experienced woodworkers are hard to find,” he said. He said their projects in particular require skill and care because rather than having to please a single customer, they have hundreds of customers in a congregation. He explains that for churches in particular, the money for the project is raised by the congregation through fundraisers and as a result they all have a sense of ownership in it.
Maintaining a reputation for quality work is key to the continued success of the company over the course of decades. Davis tells of the first pew job his father did 40 years ago. A family relation in Belvedere, Ill. knew his dad was doing woodworking and she suggested him as a contractor for when her church needed pews.
That job helped give the company a start and set it on a path in that niche market.
Last year, just after Davis purchased the company from his father, he was contacted by a church in Belvedere, Ill. located just a few blocks from where the other church is located.
Someone from that congregation recommended the company for its quality work. Two weeks later they were contacted by another church in a neighboring city that had heard about them from connections to the congregation of the church. Davis said it was a neat thing that both he and his father’s first big contracts were with churches only a few blocks apart.
A recent Davis Furniture project has been to rebuild the classroom seating in historic buildings at UW-Madison. The work must be done to exacting detail.