Burlington, Vermont - June 20, 2011
The sawdust is flying at Sterling Hardwoods. And that's not the only sound. This busy shop is an eclectic place full of unusual treasures. It adds up to a unique mood, but it's really all about the wood. David Wilson makes items like butcher blocks, chairs, windows-- anything made out of hardwood.
"We've been here 31 years and people are still discovering us, even native Burlingtonians say, Oh I didn't know you were here," Wilson said.
Wilson started the company in 1979 but did not plan a career in wood, he actually majored in philosophy.
"There weren't any jobs for philosophers so I started repairing furniture," he said. "We use local wood we buy from local mills. We've always done that and will continue to do that."
Every item produced here is made to be used.
"We don't make high-end furniture necessarily-- things that would go up in a museum-- but things that people can use in their homes," Wilson said.
Like a platform bed that's for a customer in the North End. Wilson wants his furniture to be affordable and last forever.
He gets requests for all kinds of things.
"The most unusual thing is a giant cutting block for Stone Soup in Burlington," Wilson said.
And that's because the customer wanted the maple block to be almost 8 inches think.
At 700 pounds it took one forklift and eight men later to get the butcher block to the downtown restaurant.
Wilson hired Nate Moreau a year ago to help his wood creations take shape.
"Dave's sort of a wizard," Moreau said. "He just knows everything about life so not only is he our wood mentor but he's turned into a guru of just everything under the sun."
Wilson is 61 years old and he hopes new artisans like Moreau will one day take over.
"With any luck we will just be able to hand them the keys and continue the tradition," he said.
"We're going to keep it just the same... maybe just clean it up a little bit," Moreau said.
The slow economy has slowed business but these woodworkers plan to stay.
"People find that when their pocketbooks are a little empty they don't need hardwoods, but after this length of time we're just going to stick it out and we'll be here," Wilson said.
A strong Vermont tradition hard to break-- just like their products.
Gina Bullard - WCAX News
PO Box 4508