Woodworking in Gloversville, NY
PHOTO CREDIT: Jeffrey S. Otto
When cabinet maker Lothar Herrlett moved his family to Gloversville in 1972, he had a plan.
“He wanted to give us a better life,” says his son John. “Here there was clean air to breathe and space to play. It’s a beautiful area where you can enjoy life a bit easier.”
Gloversville's a Fit for Woodworkers
Today, the Herrlett family still enjoys what Fulton County has to offer, and the senior and junior Herrletts’ shop, Herrl Woodcraft, has become one of the area’s premier woodworking businesses. Beyond its natural beauty, John Herrlett says, Fulton County is a good fit for the growing number of area woodworking shops.
“It’s a cost-effective place to do business,” says Herrlett, whose shop specializes in custom kitchens. “We have the workforce and lower real estate costs. In the Capital District, a building like ours would be 10 times the cost and we’d be in some shady industrial area. This is a more comfortable area; you’re centrally located and your customers can find you more easily.”
Doug Avery, a lifelong resident of Johnstown and owner of Avery Millwork there, also sees the local workforce and affordable real estate as key ingredients in his business’s success, as are Johnstown’s location and quality of life.
“This is a great place to raise a family,” says Avery. “The mountains are always in the background, Sacandaga Lake is right here. In three and a half hours I can be in Manhattan, in five minutes I can be in a cornfield and in 15 minutes I can be hiking up a mountain. It’s quite diversified.”
Area Offers Resources, Support
The supportive nature of the local woodworking community is a plus – “One of the nice things about the area is that we all help each other out,” Avery says – as is the availability of more tangible resources.
“There are a lot of sawmills around here where I can get hardwoods. We get cherry, maple, ash, and pine is readily available.”
Avery is particularly pleased with the arrival of new technology companies nearby, which he believes will benefit the entire local woodworking industry, as high-dollar employees buy and renovate homes.
Nature, Architecture Inspire
Susy Easterly knows all about renovating, having bought a former machine shop in the Gloversville historic district, which she turned into her own woodworking shop and which, in time, will also be her gallery and home. One of the rare women to make her living in woodworking, Easterly came home to the area after earning a graduate degree in industrial design at Savannah College of Art and Design in Charleston, S.C.
After working in another local shop for several years, in 2011 she launched Easterly Woodwork and Design. Today, she is exploring the local customer base for her custom work, doing general woodworking projects, and designing and building unique furniture, including heirloom-quality pieces for children.
Though she favors contemporary design rather than the rustic look many others in the area prefer, the environment is special for her, as it was years ago for Lothar Herrlett.
“It’s beautiful here, and the Adirondacks and the architecture are inspirations.”
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