By John McLaren
The nondescript building at SE Taylor St. and 11th Ave. could be an anonymous warehouse, but for 20 years it has housed Creative Woodworking NW, Inc., a thriving business.
It has more recently served as well as a sort of mothership for a herd of friendly goats.
The “urban goats”, carefully tended by the owner of Creative Woodworking, Mike Redmond, graze peacefully when not welcoming visitors in a vacant lot across Taylor St. from the entrance to Creative Woodworking.
The company prides itself on “providing quality millwork made to order,” especially for customers “tired of the same old stock mouldings made out of (fiberboard) you find in the big box stores.”
The single-floor work space, 20,000 square feet, is certainly ample. Among the products and services are mouldings, surface sanding, shaper work, table saw work, resawing, corbels and knife grinding.
Plus, it’s a great place to be near if you are a goat.
“We’re community- oriented and have been here a long time,” Redmond says. It’s a family business. Among the 14 employees are Redmond’s sons, Joseph, 25, Blake, 23, and Michael, 19. As youngsters, they were weaned on miniature forklifts and semis crafted by their dad.
The senior Redmond, 55, acknowledges he’s come a long way from his own youth when he dropped out of school in the 9th grade. Fortunately for him, his various youthful indiscretions were trumped by his interest and talent for woodworking.
A native of the San Diego suburb of Escondido, Redmond was about 7, he recalls, when he happened on a woodworking shop in a local Boys and Girls Club. “I was hooked. Once I got exposed to the equipment and stuff there. I never forgot it. It was like finding out what you’re good at.”
In 1968, Redmond and his family moved to Aloha, where he took woodshop in junior high, and started slipping into drug dependency. At age 20, he served three months in the Washington County jail following a conviction for dealing. The shock of impending jail time convinced him to turn his life around.
”After it looked very likely I was going to prison, I once more (but for the last time) decided to seek out for real if God was real,” he says. “It took about a year but I did find God is very real. That changed my life and it’s the best thing I ever did. And this was before jail.”
Redmond believes his recovery from the drug problem and subsequent success in business offers hope to other troubled people.
Opening his first shop at SE 14th Ave. and Stark St. in 1982, he moved to his present location in the Pein Building in 1993.
Across the street, the goats arrived four years ago, owned by a rental company that was using them to clear the field. Initially they were there for only a month or two a year. “We were the water source, and I became accustomed to the goats,” Redmond says.
He also seems to have bonded with the animals, even hand-feeding a young one. When the goat rental agency folded, Redmond bought the goats in October 2012 “so no (other) rental company could take them away.”
“I had to pay so they could stay,” he says. The Killian Pacific commercial real estate development company owns the lot, and told Redmond it was okay to keep the goats there as long as the field remained undeveloped.
The friendly creatures, protected by fencing and a locked gate, are a big attraction for passersby who want to look–but not feed them. The goats’ influence has extended inside the building as well.
Next to the office is the Wandering Goat Coffee Co. and on hand is a new “goat viewing bench”.
Their website is www.creativewoodworkingnw.com.