For Jacob Barney, Timber & Ash Designs is truly a labor of love. Born and raised in Michigan, North Dakota, Jacob grew up woodworking alongside his father – who was as much a mentor, friend, and teacher as a parent. Today, Jacob has infused those joyful childhood memories with his wife’s modern design eye to build a handmade furniture company in Grand Forks to create furniture that will last for generations.
The very thoughtful Jacob has kindly offered me up some of his ideas on what it means to craft a quality business in North Dakota:
Why is North Dakota craftsmanship important to you?
Traditionally speaking, Midwesterners are considered to be hardworking, truthful, dependable, and appreciative of quality. Without those attributes you are just another company among the dozens of others like you. To stand above the rest means holding yourself accountable to maintaining those attributes even when it means missing out on a sale.
North Dakota values played a huge role in my desire to reinvest here. I concentrate on producing the highest quality products possible knowing that quality is something that North Dakotans value.
Tell us about Timber & Ash Designs – What drives your work?
The designs…this is my favorite part. Ideas come from everywhere around us. Mountains and streams provide really great inspiration when working with unique pieces of wood. We have a product segment dedicated to furniture that incorporates rivers and streams. These are truly one-of-a-kind based on the shape of the tree. The best part of Timber & Ash Designs is being able to exercise creativity. Each and every piece we make is designed and built as one-of-a-kind so each piece requires its own creativity.
What are you the most proud of related to Timber & Ash?
I’m most proud of the quality and standards we hold ourselves to. Being able to confidently tell our customers that they will not find better quality products around here is the reason we are successful. I’ve spent a great amount of time researching how wood moves and reacts in different situations, proper joinery and construction methods, and the like so that I can say that with 100% confidence.
You list your favorite products (materials, camera equipment, etc.) on your website – what drove you to share that info?
I crave knowledge, regardless of the subject, so in learning new parts of the business I feel it’s my duty to pass on that information. In niche industries it is essential for you and your competition to succeed or the niche will disappear, so I have become an open book with my processes. I get questions all the time asking how to do certain parts of my builds. I could easily shy away and not give them the help I feel they deserve.
As a husband and wife team, what is the secret sauce for working together?
The secret is in time management. Being able to separate Family Time from Shop Time is the most important part of what we do. Up until now our shop has been located in our garage, which has its positives and negatives. It’s easy to run out to the shop to do a quick task, but it also becomes easy to always be out there doing something.
What do you see coming up next for Timber & Ash?
Timber & Ash Designs will be having an exciting 2019. We started off the year by introducing our newest family member on New Year’s Day, quickly followed by leasing a new shop and retail space here in Grand Forks. We will be expanding our business from just furniture and decor to now offering our customers the opportunity to buy live edge slabs, domestic and exotic hardwoods, salvaged wall/ceiling paneling, and all the finishing products they need to complete their very own projects.
We have carefully selected a group of suppliers for our hardwoods to make sure everything our customers buy they can have the confidence that their project will be successful. All of our hardwoods will be kiln-dried and surfaced prior to being sold and our finishes will only come from manufactures that have proven themselves in the woodworking industry.
[From Amanda: Be sure to follow Timber & Ash Designs on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with the opening of their new store at 2915 South Washington Street in Grand Forks and get a behind-the-scenes look of their day-to-day processes. While the bulk of their work consists of dining tables, conference tables, living room and bedroom furniture, and shelving, they also offer mudroom lockers, wall art, counter tops, and cutting boards.]