On this episode, we’re talking to James Vann of Summerhill Woodwork. Based in the southeast of England, James diversifies his business by utilizing his wood skills in several areas. When he’s not running his sawmill, he also does tree and forestry work.
HOW THE BUSINESS STARTED
When he was fourteen, James started selling firewood as a side job. With a carpenter for a father, James was also brought up around woodworking and using the tools in his dad’s workshop. While selling the firewood, James kept coming across pretty pieces of wood that he started picking out for projects. It’s safe to say that his passion for woodworking was cultivated while selling firewood!
As he grew up, James knew that he wanted to be an entrepreneur and run his own business, free from working for other people. At first, he would underbid and take on projects that he wasn’t sure if he could do. However, the work he did was so well-done that the customers asked him back for more. Things took off from there!
GROWING HIS SKILLSET
Since learning new techniques and evolving his style, James has had a website created where he showcases his handmade furniture. Included in this online portfolio are some of his favorite pieces to work with- large dining room tables!
LOVING HIS CHAINSAW MILL
In the beginning, James started with a smaller sized Granberg Alaskan Chainsaw Mill. As he started growing his client base, he upgraded to a larger version. Even still, whenever slabbing, he prefers to continue using his Granberg.
LOVING THE WORK
One of his favorite aspects of his business is the variety of work that he does. Combining woodworking projects, sawmilling, and other forestry work keeps him busy and not bored.
GROWING A FULL-TIME SAWMILL BUSINESS
Looking through Instagram to stay inspired and up to date with what other people in the industry are doing, James keeps himself well taught and current by networking with other woodworkers on the platform and getting their opinions on equipment and materials.
What’s his advice to others hoping to grow their business into a full-time gig?
Be patient, do good work to the best of your ability, build a reputable reputation, and grow your portfolio by being flexible with your rates and taking on jobs that showcase your talents!