Longtime Woodworking Business Blends Quality Craftsmanship With Customer Care
For years, Orla Yoder worked full time at an RV factory while tinkering with his Millersburg-based woodworking business, Classic Woods, on the side. During the economic downturn of 2008, he found a silver lining in getting laid off from his full-time gig – it was a chance to grow his part-time endeavor into something bigger.
“It was kind of scary to get laid off, but ultimately it came with a lot of blessings,” Yoder says.
One of those blessings was having the opportunity to work with some of his children on a daily basis. A father of 11, Yoder makes custom furniture such as kitchen cabinets, bath cabinets, bedroom suites, rolltop desks and sewing cabinets. Yoder and his crew can usually make a kitchen cabinet order for an average-sized kitchen in just two weeks.
Though it’s his livelihood now, woodworking was something Yoder learned later in life.
“One thing evolved to another,” Yoder says. “It’s a good feeling when you draw something up that might look complicated, but as you keep thinking it out and complete the piece, it’s very satisfying.”
Yoder has grown to love running his woodworking business. To him, the best part is helping to guide customers to the furniture of their dreams.
“It’s always rewarding when a customer walks in the door and is unsure of what his best option is, because then we can sit down, discuss their needs, and meet those needs in a reasonable fashion,” Yoder says. “Some people just feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start, so we can help them in that journey.”
Classic Woods uses several wood types including maple, oak, white oak, cherry, elm, hickory and walnut. The project type determines the best wood choice. For instance, if a customer wants to paint their kitchen cabinets, Yoder typically uses maple and covers it with a slick finish. Other clients have their hearts set on wood that shows more grain. In that case, Yoder leans toward cornerstone white oak or elm.
Yoder builds both mission-style furniture as well as traditional pieces.
“Traditional furniture has raised panels, whereas the mission is just the reverse panels where the inside is flat,” says Yoder, who often studies a house’s blueprints so that he can offer suggestions on how best to design a kitchen according to the layout and window placement.
Yoder stays extra busy in the fall as Christmas orders roll in.
“A lot of times people buy a piece of furniture for their significant other,” he says.
For instance, in the Amish community, many boys purchase sewing cabinets for their girlfriends, and girls will often order rolltop desks for their boyfriends. Last year alone, Classic Woods made 70 sewing cabinets and 35 rolltops. The company also received a large number of kitchen orders.
Classic Woods receives many referrals and return customers, due to the fine craftsmanship of the company’s work.
“People tell their brothers, sisters and neighbors,” Yoder says. “A lot of our business is word of mouth.”
There are walk-ins too, however. Such was the case for Norm Putt, who stumbled across Yoder’s work after he and his wife Mary had been shopping for Amish furniture in Shipshewana and came up empty-handed. On their way home, they drove through Millersburg and caught a glimpse of a small sign that said Classic Woods. Their interest was piqued, and they turned around to check it out.
“I drew out what I wanted and Orla built exactly what I had drawn,” Putt says. “He’s fantastic, and the workmanship is amazing. He even has these spotlights he shines on his wood to look for impurities. He won’t turn over a project until it’s done to his satisfaction.”
The Putts were the first customers to request cabinets from Classic Woods, for their daughter’s home. That was in 2009, and the endeavor ultimately started Yoder down a successful path that has served him well.
“His business has skyrocketed because anyone who sees what he can do wants to hire him,” Putt says. “The price is right, he finishes his projects on time, and it’s a family affair. What’s not to like?”
Yoder is happy to personally connect with his customers.
“It’s always interesting to me to meet new people, build a product for them, and end up having a friendship that forms beyond the business,” Yoder says.
Yoder regularly travels to the west side of Indianapolis for custom orders, and even transported a bedroom suite to Naples, Florida, for the Putts.
Putt jokes that he hates to let everyone know just how great Classic Woods is, because he considers it a hidden gem.
“But seriously, you won’t find a customer who gives Classic Woods anything less than a 10,” Putt says. “They are amazing.”
Classic Woods is located at 65438 State Road 13 in Millersburg. Call 574-642-9940 for more info.