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Community Highlights: Meet Georgie Kidder of Ross Alan Reclaimed

Today we’d like to introduce you to Georgie Kidder.

Hi Georgie, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
We actually got started working in customer service together. Ross and I met while working at a coffee shop together in Studio City called Aroma Coffee and Tea. We became really good friends, then roommates and after about five years of being roommates and giving each other relationship advice, we fell in love with one another. All that being said, we really are grateful for our customer service background in the service industry in such a busy high profile cafe, through that experience we learned the art of really understanding people’s needs in what they want, but also through the different personalities types and people of all different shapes and sizes, really taught us how to communicate well with people and in the end, a happy satisfied customer (*most of the time haha).

While Ross and I were roommates back in the day, he began dumpster diving to acquire salvaged material from buildings being torn down or remodeled. He would find a lot of old Douglas fir material. He started building things in the garage from old pieces of wood that he gathered. That began his woodworking journey. As the years progressed, he began learning different styles of building and also fine-tuning his craft of woodworking. When we were married, I started off by giving him constructive criticism (as I would call it) on the pieces he would build. He had a good handle on how a piece needed to be constructed and I had an eye for the detail and finished work, so together we made a good team! There was definitely a lot of learning and frustration from time to time, but as they say “Teamwork makes the dream work” and there is no truer statement than that with us!

When we had our first baby, we made the choice to move to Ross’s hometown in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We lived there for about a year and then LA called us back. During our year there, we started using Midwest Barn wood, which is a lot of hardwood species like Oak and Beechwood and other beautiful types of wood. As soon as we started using this material, we were hooked! The night and day difference in the beauty and outcome made us excited.

We were pregnant with our second baby when we came back to LA (literally 36 weeks pregnant when we moved back), which also made for an interesting time for us. We really had to start all over and had no money. Literally. Between both sides of our family, they were helping us pay all of our bills including groceries for us as a family. A few months into living back in LA, we sold our home in Michigan which allowed us to finally pay back all of our family the money they helped us with during this time. At that time, we had about $8,000 leftover. Ross had the crazy idea of spending that money all on bringing out some barn wood. I personally thought it was a crazy idea, especially after coming out of a season of such hardship for us. Finally after a lot of talking and praying about it, we both decided to go all in. I mean, what’s the worst thing that can happen? We just came from rock bottom, so it wasn’t too unfamiliar of a feeling (LOL). One of our friends had a tiny industrial garage space, which was about 300 square feet or so. He rented us that space for a really good price to help us out. When our wood arrived, we loaded that tiny building up with wood in hopes of selling it. We had an old iPhone 4 that we gave to our then, two years old son as a play phone. We took that back from him, put a SIM card in it and it was a free business phone! We started putting ads on Craigslist and then we found a list of designers in Los Angeles and Contractors that we started sending a mad amount of postcards too. Our goal in doing this business was just to make enough money to pay our bills and give our kids a comfortable life. It was a modest goal, but one that was realistic for us as a family.

One day, I was sitting at my computer putting more ads on Craigslist when that tiny little iPhone 4 started ringing! I was like “No way! It’s ringing! Hey Ross! The business phone is ringing!” He quickly said, “Answer it!” I was so nervous to answer it and I remember hesitantly picking it up and saying “Hello, Ross Alan Reclaimed, how can I help you?” On the other end was a young man and he replied “Hey, is this the reclaimed wood place? I just saw an ad on craigslist and I was wondering if I can come and see some wood?” We quickly raced down to our shop to meet this gentleman and made our first sale! In that first month of business, we exceeded our goal of what we wanted to make. The next month we did more and before you knew it, we were selling wood everyday and also gaining more furniture projects for clients. After two months, we had a contract with Pottery Barn to do all the wood decor in the West Coast Stores which helped us out. After three months, we found a bigger building to help give us the space we needed. It happens to still be the space we’re in now off Vineland. Within the first year, we went from a tiny 300 square foot gallery to 5,500 square feet of warehouse space. After two years, we gained another 5,000 square feet in the back of our building.

Through the years, we have had the honor and pleasure of working on some of the most stunning projects throughout California as well as gaining more and more momentum throughout the United States. We are shipping out full kitchen builds, beams, siding, furniture pieces all over the country now. We have been featured with some of the biggest designers in the industry in magazines like Architectural Digest, House Beautiful and others.

Currently, we are working on our first product line which is set to be launched towards the New Year. We are very excited about this and the possibilities of being able to bring a Ross Alan piece to many homes throughout the country. We proudly source and build everything here in the USA including all our materials and supplies we use.

We love what we do and are blessed by it everyday. We are so grateful for our staff and team of people that fiercely back us up in whatever we do! It truly takes a team and a village.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It has been smooth for the most part. We do not have a degree in business, so a lot of our lessons have been related to that. Understanding how to run a business of our size has taken some mistakes but also learning to put a strong team of people together that can help bring our vision to life. Employees are our strongest asset, but we have also have had to learn to manage people which can be challenging at times. Also, running a business in Los Angeles has a price tag to it! But, we have learned to navigate and I feel overall, it’s pretty smooth.

As you know, we’re big fans of Ross Alan Reclaimed. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about the brand?
We are a reclaimed wood source for all of your house building needs. We are also a custom woodworking shop so we can build anything you need for you home. Tables, Doors, Chairs, Beams, Siding, Vanities, etc.

All of the materials we use are sourced from Midwest Barn wood (White Oak, Red Oak, Beechwood, Pine, Chestnut, Walnut, etc.). We also carry a variety of live edge slabs.

We are known for decking out the finishing touches on a home. Like ceiling detail and cladding especially things like beams, t&g and high-end furnishings for your home as well as cabinetry.

I feel what sets us apart from other reclaimed wood companies is our attention to detail and also being able to take a 200 years old piece of wood and refine it into something that looks modern and contemporary at times. What also sets us apart is also our pride in customer service. Obviously, we are not a robot or machine-building something. Everything is done by hand. Sometimes there are mistakes, especially with the type of materials we are using. But what Ross and I take so much pride in is having a happy customer at the end of the day. We do not sleep at night unless they are happy.

We are most proud brand-wise of the above statement. Our integrity in what we do, we stand behind what we say and we really hold our client’s hand the entire journey through their project.

Our brand is not only sustainable and reusing salvaged materials, but we are innovative in our designs and are constantly staying up to date with the design world and what people want and need. We would get too bored if we didn’t keep raising the bar where that’s concerned!

We offer raw reclaimed materials, milling services, flooring, siding, custom furniture, solid beams and box beams, ceiling cladding, design consultation and kitchen cabinetry as well as BIG smiles!

What does success mean to you?
First and foremost, our success is raising a family. We have three young children and all of our drives come from them. No matter how successful we are in business or not, to us that is the most important thing and giving them a good life.

Success to us is how we treat others. We both come from families that have taught us this growing up. We find success in helping others find their paths in life. We have had so many people work for us through the years and the proudest moments we have is when we can push them to spread their wings and fly and start their own company. To us, that is the greatest feeling knowing that what we have created is allowing other’s dreams to come true as well and also offering opportunities for people to expand their knowledge as well as learning to build with raw materials.

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Image Credits
Photography by Josh James Photography Photography by Sara Tramp Interiors Design credits by Emily Henderson Design credits by Amber Lewis Design credits by Kirsten Marie Inc

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