HOW END GRAIN FURNITURE BUSINESS STARTED
Mike Rupich first started all by himself doing custom furniture. He thinks is his parents really trusted him when they let him run around with big power tools when he was younger! He would build stuff and work with tools and as he got older, this became a passionate hobby although he never thought he could ever make money from it.
For years, he built himself furniture because he couldn’t afford the ones he wanted. Then one person after another wanted to buy his furniture and it surprisingly turned out to be a full business. He’s acquired different sawmills over the 10 years he’s been in business and now it’s a full-scale metal and wood fabrication shop. In addition, they also sell the wood that they mill themselves.
BUSINESS CHALLENGES & INVESTMENTS
Being just a passionate man with no business skills, handling the day to day business operations was quite a task for Mike. It’s one thing to burst with talent and skills, it’s another to handle the business side of things. He knew he didn’t want to be a starving artist so he tried learning the ropes of having a reasonable pricing point while building quality stuff. 10 employees later, he still struggles a bit having to handle the managerial tasks especially book keeping.
After building all that up for years, two years ago his neighbor’s shop caught fire which resulted to his business being taken out. Out of this calamity, End Grain Lumber was born. Not everything was ruined and they had truckloads of lumber which they started turning into products such as flooring to complement the furniture business.
Mike is a big fan of buy once cry once while making investments. He made a huge investment to purchase a Tenon table saw which he recalls was the best thing he ever bought at the time. But as time went by other better machines cropped up and it was no longer as fancy as he thought. In this industry, though, he suggests you buy the best quality of what you can afford.
In the beginning, most of the items he was asked to make required the right boards or right sizes. He always had a hard time having to look for them which and he figured it would be best to buy the correct sawmills. Compared to what he was spending on the materials at the time, this was a wise business decision. He now owns a Woodmizer 30 and an Oscar 52.
BUSINESS LESSONS AND MOTIVATION.
His motivation comes from looking around and seeing how many talented people there are now. Everyone has a different perspective on what could be built and how they should be built which keeps him on his toes and inspired.
His first lesson is realizing that this is one of the harder professions. You have to buy expensive machines and put in so much labor, but he’s never put down by that fact. Other lessons learned, it’s important to buy only what you need, when you need it, and in the best quality as well as make sure to stand behind your work.
FINDING HIS FIRST CLIENT.
Currently, most of his clients are interior designers, architects, and designs build companies. He believes he found his clients through hard work and luck. All what he’s doing now stemmed from one referral. While he was working in his garage, he got introduced to an amazing interior designer who opened doors for him for bigger projects. That work introduced him to other people and it’s been a swift ride with consistent projects from then.
Previously, they’ve always done one-off stuff and collaborating with people to build pieces. Now, they want to enhance that on the lumber side and also having a small collection of their own pieces.
Instagram: End Grain Furniture / End Grain Lumber
Website: Endgrainfurniture.com / Endgrainlumber.com
Location: Bloomfield, New Jersey.