Turning your hobby and passion into a full-time business is not nearly as easy as it might seem.
For one thing, the importance of the business and marketing skills needed to do so are often overlooked in the process. But, one Tualatin family has made that transition through patience and a lot of hard work.
Maverick Sawmill Services is the creation of Nick Mooers and his father, Rod Mooers. The company was formed in 2016 as a part-time venture selling milled hardwood slabs and custom furniture. Now, Mooers runs a growing company that is busy branching out its sales across the country and supplying an ever-growing customer base with black walnut, elm, maple, oak and redwood-involved products.
“I grew up working with my hands and my dad and I have always enjoyed woodworking as a hobby,” said Mooers, who not so long ago was an executive for a large manufacturing company. “Now we have a full finish shop. Half of our business is still slab supply, but we now complete as much of the process in house as possible. We work with local arborists to bring the problematic trees down and from there we salvage, mill, dry, and build them out ourselves.”
Mooers grew up in the small Benton County town of Monroe, located on Highway 99W halfway between Corvallis and Eugene. He earned a business degree at Western Oregon University and entered the corporate world. But he always wanted to stick with his rural roots in spite of moving to California for work. He moved back to Oregon in 2010, and these days, he’s found a happy medium that allows he and his family to practice the art of woodworking while also making a comfortable living at it.
It was a gradual process, but this is where his business acumen paid off handsomely.
After starting a small business in 2016 supplying rough cut hardwood slabs to furniture makers and other customers, Maverick Sawmills always had an eye on expansion. In 2018, after two years of cutting and drying black walnut and other hardwood slabs, they started their push.
“I joke that it’s like a winery,” Mooers said. “As soon as you mill a piece of wood it’s not ready to build for two plus years. So, the first two years we focused on cutting and building the inventory and making sure we had plenty of stock when the time did come.”
In 2018 they moved into a larger space in Hubbard and last year into their current space off Morgan Road in Sherwood.
“We bought a vacuum kiln 18 months ago, and that thing works all day, every day,” he said. “From there, we’ve just been taking on more of the finished projects. Now our specialty is tables, desks, and other live edge looks of various large hardwoods.”
Unlike many businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic has actually been a good thing for their business. With many people stuck at home, home improvement work has skyrocketed, causing more demand for Maverick products than ever.
“Most people are just bored and want to do projects,” Mooers said. “The nice part is we’re happy to help with finish work. I like when people take the wood in raw form and say, ‘I want to put my sweat and tears into it.’ I let them know I’m a good resource for assistance and enjoy helping them through the process. Woodworking can be very enjoyable and as most of our clients find out, addicting.”
And because Maverick sources its wood from Willamette Valley locations, usually dead or dying trees that need removal, the supply chain has been unaffected.
“We get them from the stereotypical farmhouse that had walnut trees for shade,” Mooers said. “It’s a big, beautiful tree for sure, but it can get gnarly when it starts dying off. We stick, most of the time, within a 50-mile radius of Sherwood, only taking dead or dying trees and repurposing them.”
So, as 2021 gets rolling, it’s full steam ahead.
“We ship down through California fairly often, and we’re currently working on a table for a client in Nevada,” Mooers said. “Now that we have the capability and the material to support doing some of these projects we have been taking on everything we can and continue to branch out.”