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Meet Jerry Kellar of Pino Grande Woodworking in Claremont

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jerry Kellar.

Jerry, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Growing up, I always had an interest in designing and building things. I remember my Great Uncle, Jack Kellar, gifted me a block of wood, nails, and some string when I was about 4 or 5. He encouraged me to make something with it and I was eager to get creative.

I can’t recall exactly what I built, but I would say that marked the beginning of what would become a lifelong passion for design and building products from wood. At home, I would always help my dad with various woodworking projects; by the time I was a teenager I really wanted to start building things on my own. I would build various toys to play with when I was a kid such as a horse trailer for my sister or wooden race cars. By the time I was in college, I began building my own furniture out of financial necessity. It helped having these skills in woodworking to help me design and build pieces I knew I would personally enjoy.

Apart from my passion for woodwork, I’ve always had this deep desire to own my own business. After working in the corporate sector for over 15 years that dream to open my own business and to have the creative freedom began gnawing at me more and more. When my wife, Frances, and I purchased our first home back in 2016, I capitalized on the opportunity to design furniture for our new home and took on a lot of custom woodworking projects for our home renovation. After much consideration, dreaming, and a loving nudge from Frances (who is also my business partner), I opened Pino Grande Woodworking in 2018. The name pays homage to my great grandfather, John M. Kellar, who was a craftsman and woodworker in the Pino Grande region west of Lake Tahoe. Like many Kellar men in my family, John also had a knack for designing and building custom furniture that many family members enjoy to this day. I am proud to know I come from this incredible line of men who were–and are–artisan craftsmen in their own right and that I can continue this tradition with my own growing business.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I wouldn’t say it has been a smooth road though I feel like that’s a normal part of starting a business from the ground up. There’s the normal challenges one may face when starting out–growing a client base, designing products, allocating time for production and building, developing a marketing strategy–all of which is being done on an incredibly grassroots level and modest operating budget. To that end, starting this business all while working with my wife in raising our two small children and supporting each other in our own professional pursuits requires us to be incredibly flexible and adaptive in our work. It’s a balancing act for sure. Some days we feel incredibly successful at balancing it all and other days we come away with some meaningful lessons learned.

Please tell us about Pino Grande Woodworking.
I specialize in designing and handcrafting custom wood products for the home and am most known for my serving platters, charcuterie boards, cutting boards, and small home decor products. I also do accept commissioned work to build custom pieces of furniture constructed from locally sourced wood and metal. I’m the designer and craftsman; Frances runs the marketing and overall business operations. She’s incredibly organized and strategic so it helps a ton having her support in that capacity so I can focus on what I love–designing and creating. We take pride in our keen eye for design and detail and pour that into every product we build. So many clients tell us they feel like our cutting boards are “too beautiful to cut on or use” and it’s always great to hear the admiration and awe for this level of work. That said, our boards–and other handcrafted wood products–are truly built for everyday use and will last through the test of time. The inlay we use as the signature of our products isn’t painted on, which is a frequent question we get from people who visit us for the first time. Our products are built from multiple species of wood that I meticulously put together and finish in an iterative process that results in the seamless design that always impresses our clients.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
When I think back to my childhood, I look back at the many moments where I was encouraged to build and design. Whether it was my father bringing home a model car kit or my Great Uncle gifting me pieces of wood and materials to build, I appreciate the direct and indirect encouragement in my artistic ability. It’s because of that encouragement and mentorship in woodworking that I feel like I’ve really been able to hone this craft and am motivated to continue to grow in my practice as an artisan woodworker.  As I approach the two year mark, I am most proud of the growth made up to this point and the relationships I’ve started to cultivate with the local community, business partners, and individual clients. This has all been done while operating on a very modest budget. Slowly, I am starting to see our exposure grow and that our brand is getting out there, which is very encouraging to see. In this season, I really feel like Pino Grande Woodworking is growing at a pace that feels right for us right now and we are excited to experience what will come next.

Pricing:

  • Ready to ship products (e.g., cutting boards, charcuterie boards, small wood products) start at $30. Shipping is available in the Continental US at a flat rate ($10) ; free shipping available with orders over $100.

Contact Info:

  • Website: www.pinograndewoodworking.com
  • Phone: 909-973-0772
  • Email: info@pinograndewoodworking.com
  • Instagram: @PinoGrandeWoodworking
  • Facebook: @PinoGrandeWoodworking


Image Credit:
Christopher Wren Photography (Jerry’s headshot); all other photos by Frances Kellar

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