For me, Alpine Rustics was like a fine piece of wood that reveals itself to be better than you imagined the more you work it. If you don’t know father-and-son team Wally and Jordan Eadie personally, you probably know the custom furniture manufacturer just from driving past their Victoria Road manufacturing operation.
They usually have a few teaser bentwood pieces out front – and that’s about all I thought they did.
A few months back, I noticed their Facebook page and followed it. Every few weeks, I’ve been treated to a newly-created work of stunning artisanship. Coffee tables, full-sized dining tables, kitchens, bedroom sets and commercial building showpieces are a few of their great works so far. They incorporate metal, glass and, of course, wood in their pieces. Their specialties are bentwood, which involves steaming, shaping and weaving wood into furniture, and also ‘live-edge’ furniture, which is partially-milled wood that uses the natural contour of the wood, and sometimes has bark still attached.
Wally and Jordan were working away on a giant dining room table when I visited their workshop, which is a converted auto repair shop. The aroma of freshly-milled cedar and spruce intermingle in the sawdusty air.
The customer who commissioned the table is a walk-in snowmobiler from Saskatchewan who was so impressed with their catalogue he ordered it on the spot. He’ll be driving his toy-hauler back soon to pick up the fantastic live-edge piece. A lot of their business is generated this way, but their reputation is growing far past drive-by customers.
Wally and Jordan opened Alpine Rustics in 2004. Prior to that, Wally worked as a probation officer for more than three decades. Jordan grew up in Revelstoke, but moved to Vancouver to attend film school. He worked in that industry, then was a construction foreman at an earthquake retrofitting company. After years in the Lower Mainland, the father of three took stock.
“You grow up [in Revelstoke] and you graduate and you think, ‘I want to get out of this place.’” he said. “And then you go and live in 12 different places on the Coast. And you’re like, ‘Revelstoke’s the best.’ You realize how great it was to grow up there, and we wanted the same thing for our kids.”
Woodworking was always Wally’s hobby and he shared his skills with Jordan growing up. Jordan brings artistic creativity to their work and their businesses. He’s a photographer, videographer (see Flatstick Film & Media Works on Facebook) and new media graphic designer (check out their great-looking website at alpinerustics.com).
“I’m not traditionally trained or anything. Dad did a lot of this when I was growing up. Doing a lot of the bentwood. It was more a hobby,” Jordan said. “You just learn how to do it after a while.”
They’ve combined their skills to create a business that’s earning a reputation for creative, quality pieces. Together, they’ve built a niche that focuses on high-end custom pieces, and are earning a reputation amongst a growing circle of select designers who commission works for their clients.
I’d assumed there would be a similar operation in every small town in the Kootenays, but Jordan surprises when he tells me there’s only a few in the whole southeast of the province.
Why? It’s a tough to balance customers’ demand for quality and timeliness. Prior to the economic meltdown, they could get backlogged for up to a year. Hiring too many assistants can be a gamble on quality. “They buy you as an artist, not an assembly line,” Jordan explained.
Another limiting factor to the business is the economy. A $7,000 table is one of the first things off the budget when the economy hits the skids. “To be honest, when everything went downhill in 2009, it was pretty tough,” Jordan said. “It’s tough to make it, but I think it’s coming back around in the last six to eight months.”
They survived by diversifying. They were working on dozens of cedar picnic benches for a government agency when I was there.
But over the years, they’ve also built up a growing network of high-end clients. They hope their reputation for amazing “feature wood” pieces will continue to grow in the coming years. They mention some of their clients (but ask for confidentiality). Suffice it to say there’s a good chance you’ve seen their works if you’ve spent time in better hotels or heliskiing lodges around Revelstoke.
“If that trend continues, I really want to focus on … live-edge and high end stuff that people would come from around the world to buy,” Jordan said.
Alpine Rustics is located at 1407 Victoria Road and at alpinerustics.com.