Unique furniture from a unique shop | Business
Harold Enamorado – owner of Cala Contemporary Woodwork in New Ulm – is possibly one of the few people whose furniture business is located in an old water treatment plant.
He had big ideas when he turned the sprawling building into a wood furniture store and showroom, an outdoor sawmill, and a potential meeting place for the future.
“We plan to have children come here to build birdhouses and we will donate some wood for the woodworking program at the high school here in New Ulm,” said Enamorado.
“Another plan we have is dudes and donuts,” he said. “(Seniors) come into the store and do a project or finish a project that they have at home that they cannot finish because they don’t have the special tools. You can bring your belongings and use the tools here. “
Enamorado is the kind of person who sees opportunities everywhere and is willing to take risks, even big ones. It’s an attitude towards life that his father gave him at a young age, when he grew up in Honduras in the late 1990s.
At the age of 10 he started working as a welder in his father’s metal furniture factory in San Pedro Sula. When the international raw materials boom around the turn of the millennium made the price of industrial metals soar, his father had to reinvent his business or close his doors. His father chose the latter – a risk that has paid off.
“Everyone would probably have just closed their business with the metal,” said Enamorado. “He said, ‘No, we’re just going to take a different route.’ The wood is now his main production. With every little step I take here, I think what would my father think about it? Then I give him a call and he will say, just do it. “
During a week-long vacation with his parents in neighboring Costa Rica, Enamorado decided to stay immediately and transferred his college credits to an architecture school. He met his wife, an international student from Minnesota, while they were graduating. After graduation, she suggested returning to Minnesota and landing first in the Twin Cities suburb of Mound, where Enamorado ran a drywall business.
About four years ago, her then eight-year-old son, Alessandro, found some old wooden railway sleepers in the woods near her house. He asked Enamorado to make something of it.
“I put it in my garage and spent days trying to remove the oil they put on those pieces of wood,” Enamorado said. “I didn’t have any tools other than a handsaw and a hand plane from my garage. Took a month to make a table. “
When Enamorado posted a picture of the table on Facebook, it literally sold within an hour. This was the seed from which Cala Contemporary Woodwork was born, named after the first flower Enamorado gave to his wife and which he founded the following year.
When the couple gave birth to twin daughters, they moved to New Ulm to be closer to the family. An architecture firm hired Enamorado and continued to build furniture from his garage in his spare time.
In the meantime, the city of New Ulm was considering what to do with its old water treatment plant on the Minnesota River. It had slept for years and the cost of maintaining and heating the building was a headache for the city.
“They planned to demolish this building because they weren’t using it,” Enamorado said. “We told them we were looking for a building and that we would grow in the area.”
The city sold him the building for $ 1 in exchange for costly renovations and maintenance. Enamorado’s son remembers the day they walked through the front door when they bought the building in September.
“I remember looking around and leaving, ‘Holy Cow,’ said Allesandro Enamorado.
Like his father before him, Allesandro Enamorado is learning the trade, driving the forklift, helping with the sawmill outside and grinding wood inside.
He said he knows he’s done grinding, “If you don’t have any splinters on your hand.”
Today, Enamorado spends his mornings as an architect and his afternoons building handcrafted furniture from scrap wood or old branches that would otherwise be burned on the city’s construction site. It has essentially become two shops, the sawmill outside and the furniture shop inside.
Enamorado’s goal is to ensure that the right piece of furniture meets each customer’s needs. That starts with asking lots of questions to determine what type of wood to use and what texture and color are best.
“We build the best for the customer,” said Enamorado. “I don’t want to give them anything that may not work for them at the end of the day. That’s why I always ask questions and pictures of your space. “
These questions can range from the size, colors and lighting of the room, to the customer’s own interests, to the purpose of the furniture, which determines what wood to use and what dimensions it is. When Enamorado saw a customer’s Harley Davidson sign in the background of a picture sent to him, he suggested a piece of furniture with these colors.
“We sold it straight away just because we’re always trying to find something special in the customer that tells me what they want. It is the same with wood. “
It is important to him not to force the wood to do something it isn’t, but to work with what it has. If a piece of wood has cracks, he fills them with resin or epoxy to fill in the gaps. The end result is a creative and deliberately looking marble-like surface with tones of browns and blacks swirling together, a trend that has become increasingly popular in recent years.
Enamorado’s style is as historically preserved as it is creative, like the coffee table he builds from old barn girders or a console table made of reclaimed wood. Other creations consist of black walnut, robinia and red cedar.
He currently has two employees, but plans to hire more in the future.
“It’s not a big production, but everything we make is unique and we use every piece of wood,” he said. “Every small step led to the right decision. I am not afraid. I just do it. “