You can catch them sitting outside their home on 1645 Markel Drive most days of the week. They sit on hand-crafted picnic tables built in their back yard in the hope that potential customers might stop by and purchase one.
This is the first business venture that handyman Michael Hahn and his brother-in-law, David Lavigne, have undertaken. They started a little more than six weeks ago and have built three tables.
So far, they’ve only sold one, but that doesn’t mean they’re giving up.
“It’s definitely not as fast as what they tell you on TV,” said Hahn, who acts as the sales consultant of the two.
“There’s a lot of stuff that Mr. Microsoft didn’t tell us when he was starting in his garage, you know?” Hahn said. “It’s not so much the financial end of it, because you can keep the costs down pretty decent. It’s just the time factor of getting your name out there and getting people to basically build the trust factor. Because anybody can make an arts-and-crafts booth at the local flea market, but to make something that generates an income — the timing is really the biggest factor.”
Hahn and Lavigne typically use spruce-pine-fir lumber for their tables because it’s a durable softwood that’s easy to work with, has high strength-to-weight ratio and takes stains well. They also add a water-sealant treatment to their table to make them more resilient to rain and outdoor elements.
Before moving to West Orange, Lavigne owned a woodworking shop in Massachusetts.
“I’ve been a carpenter almost all my life,” Lavigne said. “I enjoy woodworking. It’s satisfying to take a piece of raw lumber and turn it into something functional and sometimes beautiful. ... If it can be made out of wood, I can do it. We’ll see where this takes us and how far we can go with it.”
Lavigne hopes the new business also will mark a new beginning for his life.
“A few years ago, I ran into some trouble — had a drug problem and went to a treatment program up in Maine,” he said. “Been clean now a little over two years. My sister’s been after me for years to move down here because I have no family left at home. So here I am.”
Lavigne is now living on monthly disability checks because of a serious back issue.
“I live on disability, but $713 a month just really ain’t enough to survive on,” Lavigne said. “So we just thought we’d give this a try and see what we can do it with it.”
The duo currently is working on a custom request for a 6-foot round table that wraps around a tree. Eventually, they hope to offer more custom work, including interior furniture such as dining room tables, or outdoor furniture.
Contact Gabby Baquero at [email protected].