Client Feature: John NowickiSubmitted by Pelorus Financial Group on June 29th, 2017
By: Sarah Glink A break in the winter weather afforded me a tour of John Nowicki’s expansive backyard garden. His garden was “sleeping”, but it was no less impressive for that fact. Just behind his A-frame greenhouse, John grows enough produce that many would consider him an urban farmer. He showed me rows of fruit trees, berry bushes, and a grouping of raised garden boxes waiting for spring. Currently John is growing garlic and working to get the perfect soil conditions for his next planting season. What was once a career in botany has turned into a rewarding way of life for John. As a young man, John worked in nurseries. However, concerns about the effect pesticides might have on his health pushed him to pursue other avenues for employment. He spent evenings with a friend at a wood shop and was soon offered a job. John found that in addition to the joy he received from wood working, he learned that he was quite skilled at the trade. After just two years working as a professional craftsman, John was made foreman at the shop where he was once a novice. John has spent a few years teaching adult education classes on faux finishing techniques. A career in botany, a penchant for woodworking, and a teaching position might be enough for some, but John has also sought adventure. He spent a season of his life repairing fishing boats in Alaska. John spent the past twenty years working as a professional craftsman, building beautiful custom furniture. His current employer, Millwork Design Solutions, has quite an impressive resume of projects and clients. John was happy to share pictures of some of his favorite projects. He has made folk art pieces, floor-to-ceiling custom work for companies and residences, a massive welcome desk for a local community center, special pieces for churches, even a dressing table for a sheik from Abu Dhabi. Some of the most interesting pieces John showed me had hidden compartments and doors without visible hinges or handles. Millwork Design Solutions recognizes that John has a way with people, so they have him sit down with clients as they come in. John helps the clients’ visions become reality. His process is to understand what the client wants. He asks for pictures of the types of things they like and creates a design. Then he works to build the piece. John can even create unusual finishes on the wood. He showed me pictures of wood painted to look like marble and stone. When I asked John about his success as a master wood worker and what sets him apart, he replied “I feel like I know the wood better than any other wood worker. I understand the wood down to the cellular structure.” John says that at their busiest the company’s six employees can produce a semi-load of beautiful custom pieces in a week’s time. He jokingly describes the process as the same way you eat an elephant… one piece at a time.