NEW GLOUCESTER — When business grew 700% last summer, it was time to come up with a new plan.

Ross and Carie Gauvin would move aside the custom furniture that they started Row Station Woodworks with, instead focusing on their mega-hit wood shelving, making their first hire — and then three more, build shop space and make it all work.

“While it was exciting, and we’d certainly never complain about growth, it brings its own challenges,” said Ross Gauvin, who co-owns the company with wife Carie. “When things really started to set in, we saw more orders in one weekend than we saw in a previous month. It became really challenging, really quickly.”

The company has logged nearly 9,000 Etsy sales since 2016, its main sales platform, with nearly all of the pieces created and shipped by Ross or Carie from a converted garage off their New Gloucester home.

This week, Etsy named Rowe Station Woodworks its 2021 top shop in Maine, anointing one shop in each state to celebrate Small Business Week, an honor based on a mix of sales, stars and reviews.

“There’s so many great makers in this state,” said Ross Gauvin, who said it came as a surprise when a spokesperson reached out.

The couple didn’t start out to create a company.

When they moved into their home in 2015, Gauvin said he was determined to make a new dining room table, a focal point, “somewhere we could make memories.”

“I had no carpentry experience — I learned everything the hard way,” he said. “That was my school: The Hard Way. I actually prefer to learn that way. It’s not always the prettiest way to learn, or the most exciting, but it’s one of the ways you learn best.”

After posting pictures online, “some folks said, ‘Hey, that’s really awesome, would you make one like that for me?’ And that’s how the business started,” he said.

By January 2017, he left his corporate job with Apple to pursue Rowe Station Woodworks full-time. Carie left her teaching job the next year.

“We used to ship off of our kitchen dining room table,” he said. “It was actually our first shipping location; we’d grab our ledges and ship them out with dinner on the stove, just bootstrapping all things.”

Their breakout hit ledges, or floating shelves, started when they purchased some from another store and weren’t happy with the quality.

It’s grown into a dozen-plus array with different depths — shallow for displaying books or records, deeper ones for plants or trophies, ones with hooks for entryways — in a wide variety of woods, usually 1 to 7 feet long, all made to order.

Floating picture ledges await packaging and shipping in the shipping shed at Ross and Carie Gauvin’s shop in New Gloucester. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“We have the equipment, we have the knowledge, we have the sourcing and it allows us to not necessarily work with different stains,” Gauvin said. “If someone has light oak floors or cherry cabinets or a teak bench or those kinds of things, we actually work with those woods.”

The company’s wall decor got a serious boost from the home improvement and new do-it-yourself kick of the pandemic. The wait time is currently about two months between placing an order and having it ship, something the couple is determined to lower this year.

“It’s not because it takes us two months to make a product — it’s because it takes us two months to make all the orders before your product,” he said. “We make over 1,500 of these ledges on a monthly basis, so if we can get that to 2,000 or 2,500, we could have a shorter lead time. It’s a much better experience for the customer. We don’t want people to have to wait eight weeks for products.”

To make that happen, they’re breaking ground on new shop space soon and planning to hire three more people before the end of the year.

Their pieces are in stores in Massachusetts and New Mexico, but Gauvin said they haven’t had time to grow Maine sales, or even do something as simple as a craft fair, something he hopes to do with more staff.

“We work constantly,” he said. “My wife and I set up at night and we have what we call customer service hour, which is where we sit in front of the TV with a Celtics game on or something like that and we respond to emails and quotes, orders for the week.”

Ross said he had always wanted to own a business and admired the work ethic of his mother and stepfather, who were both self-employed.

“Being able to get up each day and work with (Carie) and show our children hard work and creativity, craft, what it means to be a maker, all those types of things, is extremely rewarding,” he said.


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