Food & Recipe | January 25, 2014
Nemitz Custom Woodworkings
From his humble upbringing in the Midwest, Jordon Nemitz has always been getting his hands on anything he can create. Always constructing something, Jordon found himself working more and more with wood and always dreamed of bringing his woodworking skills together with a business focus. Now the owner of Nemitz Custom Woodworkings, Jordon is able to create customized furniture with American sourced lumber.
As we sit with him in Centurion Stone in Des Moines, Iowa, a store that features his products, Jordon tells us that he’s “always had an interest in being hands on” growing up. He started woodworking with his dad, even sometimes swiping materials so he could create his own projects.
Part of the reason Jordon got into the business of making his own chairs, and eventually other outdoor furniture, was due to his disappointment in the options he found when buying chairs from big box stores.
“I got a chair that came in a box that I had to put together… it was supposedly made of wood but I couldn’t guarantee that. It was so cheesy. You buy it for a year and throw it away, or it blows away.”
His background was perfect for him to create his own set furniture, and after making a few tables for a bar in town, he got interest from Centurion Stone to bring his products into their showroom.
Finding quality can be hard in chain stores, as “so much stuff is made overseas.” The production model can make better profit margins, as Jordon recognizes. “I understand it. It’s fast. They can do it fast and bring it over but they do skip important steps.” The steps he is referring to can be costly over time to the consumer, having to buy multiple replacements because they “stapled instead of glued” and other ways to minimize costs while multiplying quantity. “From my personal experience, it seems to be lacking a certain quality. There is always something they skip in terms of structure or quality.” Handmade products unsurprisingly take a lot of time, but that dedication can be both “gratifying” for the woodworker but also beneficial to the customer. “[The customer] knows who is building it. If something does go wrong, I’m going to take care of it. They’re not going to have to go deal with someone in customer service in a line, who then [has] to go talk to the manufacturer, who then talks to their supplier - probably overseas... I try to avoid that all together by making it the best I can.”
Adirondack chairs up close
A set of Adirondack chairs and a coffee table
Jordon getting started to work on an Adirondack chair.
Nemitz Custom Woodworkings
"Field of Dreams" Adirondack Chair
A set of Adirondack chairs with a side table in-between.
6 - 6
Beyond quality for the customer, woodworking by hand has given Jordon pride in both having opportunities that may not have been possible otherwise. While he admits it may not be making a big dent in importing, he sees the job opportunity for people that are able to work domestically. “Look what is has given to the people who make it here in the U.S. It’s giving them a job and letting them do it by hand, where they normally can’t because it’s been outsourced.” He notes that people like him, such as other woodworkers and carpenters, love working with their hands to personalize these products for their customer. By keeping the production at home, they are able to do what they love.
“Doing it on your own – it’s just gratifying”
Another opportunity in an industry with finite resources is one that affects everyone: environmental impact. By making a high-quality chair or piece of furniture, Jordon is able to cut down on how much lumber he uses because his customers won’t need to replace their furniture for years. Jordon also can hand select his wood, and one of his preferred types is cedar. “Cedar is a very, very renewable resource. They grow fast and they are very plentiful.” He is able to get this lumber in the northwest portion of the country, where it is abundant. Ultimately, Jordon would like to create a system where he could respond to fallen trees quickly while they are on the ground but not dead yet. His reasoning being that “it’ [would be] natural and I haven’t ruined something”. By combining both renewable resources with a product that doesn’t need to be replaced constantly, Jordon is addressing both quality and environmental issues his customers may have with wood products in stride.
Jordon is happy to have his own business and the relationship his intimate model gives to his customers. When asked what has been his favorite creation, he answer immediately that it’s, “Honestly, the next one. All of them mean something to me and the person it goes to, or the home that it goes to. I don’t just have another one in the queue ready to be built. It is always a thought, I have to think about every piece that I make.” His favorite personal creation was a planter, which incorporated copper, that he was able to give to his parents, who “loved it”. Jordon’s father may have shook his finger at him when he borrowed materials for his own creations back in the day, but he certainly is thankful now that it led to his son’s passion. Jordon enjoys staying in Iowa near his family and where he grew up, but also sees to the future of his business opportunities as well. He and his wife travel to Florida often, and have considered expanding business to warmer climates that would take full advantage of outdoor furniture year-round. Ultimately, Jordon loves the ability to customize his products and the sense of pride it gives him to own a business.
Credits // Author: Kelsey Klemme // Photos Provided By: Carly Demro