The Herald goes outside of Grand Forks this week to talk to Marcus Waterworth, owner of Waterworth’s Woodshop, located at 29195 Pembina Trail NW, in Viking, Minn.
1. Tell us about your business/how long you have been open/how did you come to own your own custom cabinet shop?
We are based in rural Viking, Minn., and have been providing custom cabinetry, countertops, and built-in furniture since 1991. My dad, Tim Waterworth, started the company as a part-time business while he worked his day job at a commercial cabinet shop. I started learning woodworking from my dad around the age of 7, when I would do what I could to help around the shop on evenings and weekends. While in college at Northland Community Technical College for business, I was able to convince my dad to buy into the company, which at this point, had a couple of part-time employees. Once we teamed up to run the company it grew to having over 20 full-time employees, with our work being showcased all throughout the Midwest.
We make everything from custom cabinetry and furniture for multi-million-dollar homes to efficiency style cabinets for apartment units. As a company, we pride ourselves on quality, while still maintaining our pricing to where we are an option for everyone. We have found that due to our location, work volume and efficiency, we can offer fully custom cabinets at a price even less than most large retailer and lumber yards. I have always aspired for our work to be able to belong to all of those who want to have it.
2. How have you been able to grow your business when it hasn’t been the norm in the industry as a whole?
Many things, both within and without our control, have helped our growth over the years. What I attribute our growth to was figuring out who we were as a company, and doubling down on those ideas time and again. For example, when most places would have moved their operations to town to be closer to their customers, we decided it would be best to remain in our rural setting and expand our operations, including our showroom, which is over 10 miles from Viking. We liked the idea of being able to work near our home, and felt the reduced overhead that comes with a rural setting would equate to enough savings for our customers to make it worth their drive along the historic Pembina Trail. It has been very fun to watch people drive up from all over the Midwest to come find us at our remote location, and let our area, our work and our products become a part of their lives.
3. What are the biggest challenges you face, not only in running a business, but in your craft as well?
Custom cabinetry and woodworking as a whole is a very challenging business. Everything that we make is one of a kind, so essentially everything is a prototype. We never make the same kitchen or bath twice, so the challenges on each project are different. Since the challenge is unique, we never really get to fully resolve a specific problem so that it won’t happen again. Instead, you have to use your acquired knowledge to continually address and resolve each issue as it presents itself.
4. Is there a particularly memorable project you have worked on recently?
We mostly focus on kitchens, baths and built-in furniture these days. Occasionally we find time for those extremely unique projects. We have made a “scat” tower for the DNR to display different animal feces. We have made a display case for a bong that customer of ours bought from the chief of an African tribe that he met on safari. We also make custom caskets and urns on a semi-regular basis. While the work and projects are what initially excited me about this type of business, what keeps me motivated are the relationships we build with our great crew and community of customers. It is a truly great feeling that out work gets to be part of people’s lives for years to come.
5. What does the future hold for your business?
We just want to continue to serve those who want us to serve them. We enjoy the work and have done what we can to let people know that we can be an option for them for all their cabinetry needs, and will continue to do so. It has been continued growth for us to this point, which is a great feeling. We just want to continue to build our cabinets and provide our service to those who want us to work with them. If the demand is there, we will do everything we can to accommodate our customers. We aren’t afraid to grow, and we feel truly honored each time someone has us do a project for them. It would be great if one day our work is sold all throughout the nation, with hundreds of craftsmen and women working with us, but we will be satisfied if we remain this size and get to continue to build quality projects for quality people. We will do what we can to the best of our ability.