Maybell couple starts woodworking business out of shed
November 2, 2007
Craig — Wander up around Maybell, a little more than four miles northwest on Highway 318, and you might find a family trying something new.
About three years ago, Tim Hicks hurt his shoulder working for Maybell Enterprises, a limestone company. While at home rehabbing his injury, he took notice of a woodworker’s Web site.
“I could do that,” he said.
A year and a few handmade lamps later, he and his wife, Candy, were in business for themselves, and never looked back.
Tim and Candy started Rocky Mountain Twist – a homespun furniture company – with pretty simple tools: a chain saw, an 8-by-10 feet shed and a small inkling that twisted juniper wood and some creativity could be marketable.
“I thought he was kind of crazy,” Candy said about her first reaction.
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A former full-time mother, Candy loves the work, she said.
From twisted juniper, pine and cottonwood branches, Tim and Candy craft lamps, tables and more. They take custom requests, and allow customers to pick out their piece of wood.
Any extensive manufacturing is purposefully left out of the process. The couple wants to maintain the wood’s natural appeal.
“Juniper has some of the most unique qualities to it,” Candy said.
They don’t want to do anything to ruin that, she added. The only time they use a saw to cut and shape is when they get the wood off the tree.
They rarely cut a whole tree down, Candy said.
“We just go from one tree to the next and cut off the coolest pieces we can find,” she said.
They thought their operation would be a local thing, something they could show the people in their Northwest Colorado backyard.
Now, the backyard business is bigger than the backyard.
What began as a small lamp operation has blossomed under national interest.
They’ve sold to California hunters here on vacation, shipped lamps to Arkansas and tables to Alaska and have a request to stock a Louisiana furniture outlet.
“It has just taken off so much more than we anticipated,” Candy said. “At first we were kind of teaching ourselves how to make stuff.
“Now, we absolutely love it. It’s not everyday you can live in Maybell and make a living in Maybell working out of the house.”
The two started putting their wares in Steamboat Springs furniture stores when interest and sales got big enough. They sent portfolios to put out with their products to generate more word of mouth interest.
About a year ago, Candy created a Web site to advertise and take orders.
In July, they took all their inventory – even the pieces they had in Steamboat floor rooms – up to the annual Frisco Craft Fair.
They sold everything.
Since then, it’s been a race to keep up with the orders, Candy said. The couple won’t have any items in stores until they catch up on their commissions.
Going against the grain of traditional business practice, there isn’t any plan to expand the business, Candy said.
“We don’t want anything bigger than we have,” she said. “Ours are one-of-a-kind hand crafts, and we don’t want to become a factory. We try to keep everything unique.”
Rocky Mountain Twist can be reached at 970-756-1448, or at http://www.rockymountain-twist.com.
Collin Smith can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or firstname.lastname@example.org