Friday, February 27, 2009

We met on Craigslist

There are many websites stored in my list of favorites including Fox Sports, Google, ESPN, and of course Meadowview Construction, but 2 of my most visited are Ebay and Craigslist. I went through a period on Ebay where it seemed like I was constantly bidding on either a tool or bass fishing item. Becoming the winning bidder on Ebay can be a science as certain items draw more interest than other. My rule of thumb was to not spend more than 50% of the replacement value of any item I was bidding on but when bidding on collectibles or rare items you can throw that policy out the window. There are plenty of greedy sellers who try to get far more for their crap than it's really worth and I was constantly on the lookout for a good bargain. In fact, I probably outfitted more than one crew with all the tools they needed from Ebay and I couldn't even begin to place a value on the tools I purchased.

A few years ago my focus shifted to Craigslist, primarilly because you can find more local items and there are no commissions to pay for the items. Cash is king on CL and it usually involves a local pickup and no shipping which is nice because you can see what you are getting. When I was outfitting my cabinetry shop 2 years ago one of the big items I needed was a metal storage cabinet for flammable liquids such as paint and solvents so I turned to CL. Immediately I found a guy in Andover who was getting rid of a sharp yellow flammable storage cabinet for about $400. Although I can't remember if I got him down in price, I do remember that he responded in 5 minutes and suggested that for $40 he would drive it over to my shop in 30 minutes. Wow, what customer service. My shop manager, Bryan, took his card when he dropped off the cabinet and I actually never met the guy but I saw his Dodge pickup pulling out of my driveway. I am sure glad Bryan grabbed his card because Jonathan Rummel turned out to be one heck of a gem. Come to find out, he has a cool company called Hand Forged Works where he designs and builds custom architectural metalwork pieces from handrails to fireplace screens. He even makes a line of custom metal belt buckles which you can see on his website.

My wife and I decided to bite the bullet and call Jonathan last year and invited him to our home to consult with us on 2 projects. The first was a metal handrail to finish of our new stairway and the second was to come up with a unique powder room vanity. We were immediately impressed with Jonathan's design skill as he listened to us describe what we were looking for. We showed him photographs and sketches and he came back to us a week later with some amazing designs to choose from. We chose to combine features from each design and we speechless when he came back to us a few weeks later with the final version. "Holy Crap" was what I think I said when he showed us. You have to believe me when I say that the finished product was 5 times nicer than we even imagined. This stairway is kind of small and needed something that could hold its own without being too gawdy. Jonathan created a masterpiece with this railing and what had me scratching my head was how he made all the connections. Some of these connections would be tough enough trying to accomplish with wood where you can easily cut it and glue or nail it together. Each piece of metal is perfectly fit and shaped with each textured baluster flaring out at the bottom and the top rail has a gentle curve at the bottom with the softest oil/wax finish you can imagine. It feels so perfect in my hands each time I walk up and down the stairs. I could go on and on about his work but I guess the point I want to make is that this guy is an Extreme Craftsman who I have the utmost respect for. It is an honor to recommend someone like Jonathan where I just know he will blow people away with his work. And just think, we met on Craigslist.


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