Hobby Becomes a Post-Retirement Urban Wood Business

What started as something to do for retirement has grown into a lucrative custom woodworking business for Alan Runde of Batavia, IL.

Runde recently reached out to the Illinois Wood Utilization Team to share photos of some of his work. “I was so busy getting my shop up and running the past five years I did not have a lot of free time to be part of the social side of woodworking and reaching out to people and organizations like yours,” Runde said.

“My retirement hobby has become a small design build/one-man shop ‘business,.'” Runde added. “It really is a well paying hobby that goes to my daughter’s college education fund.”

Runde started his woodworking business in December 2012. His specialty is Arts and Crafts style design, but, “I also favor the urban industrial/barn wood design build projects,” he said.

Clients include a several commercial contractors for whom Runde does specialty work like doors, table tops and sales counters. “I also have a great loyal base of prior customers who were referred by word of mouth and reputation.” Yet another source of business are clients Runde referred to as “drive up customers.” They are mostly women who want a custom piece that they have seen on Pintrest or HGTV or something like that. They are my best advertising.”

Runde’s go-to source for milled and kiln-dried urban wood is fellow Batavia resident Ron Meyers of Meyers Lumber & Woodworking. He’s been purchasing urban harvested lumber from Meyers for about 10 years. ” I have been heating my home first, and now the shop, from Ron’s scrap pile since he opened up his business on River Street;” Runde said.

Runde credits his father for educating him about the benefits of wood recycling. “My father taught me about reclaimed lumber 30 years ago and how valuable and rare some lumber was. He was years ahead of the trend.”

Runde’s favorite urban wood is white oak. “It’s the classic Arts and Crafts species of choice from the last century. It is also our state tree,” Runde noted. “I love the smell of oak as I work with it. I love the classic ray and flecks of high-grade quarter sawn white Oak. Ron Meyers has some of the best stock in the Midwest since the area has a great gift of old-growth white oak that was not clear cut when the settlers came through.”

So what does Runde like best about using urban wood? “I like the whole tree to furniture movement that’s taking place now in the artisan-inspire shops. I love that clients get to see a tree on their property go through the whole process from harvesting to milling, drying, designing and building something from it. I also like that they get a hand crafted piece of art furniture  for future generations of their family. It makes me feel happy to be part of the equation.

Contact Runde at alrunde@mac.com.