AR and Our Amish Builder
The Amish have large populations in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Wisconsin. Our builder is from the Viroqua, WI area and his woodworking shop sits on a couple acres tucked high on the bluffs above the Mississippi River valley. It's beautiful area of the country with rolling hills, deep valleys called coulees, and a population of some of the nicest people you will ever come across. The "English", what the Amish call non-Amish people, are mostly farmers and live side by side with the Amish. They help the Amish with simple items such as letting them borrow the phone or giving them a lift to town to get supplies. The Amish will build things for them in return, whether it's on a barter system or a fully commissioned item. It's a place where society is in harmony and the influence of the outside world seems to have little circumstance on the day-to-day life. The solitude and slow pace of life is such a nice change from chaos of the world we live in. We try to find time to take a country drives even if we don't have pressing needs for Acoustic Remedy because it's good for the soul.
When we met our builder, Enos, he was a spry 25 year old with great ambitions. At the time he was renting land and put up a small house on his in laws property in Genoa, WI. He finally purchased his own land in 2017 where he put down roots for his growing family.
On the property there is a large pole shed he labored over converting from a tobacco drying barn to an insulated space currently used to store wood for heating the shop, his horse drawn buggy, a horse stable, some lumber, and a good staple of supplies for Acoustic Remedy. The old farm house on the property is close to 100 years old and needed some rehabilitation and transition from an English house to an Amish house (i.e. removing all electrical, HVAC, etc.). Gigantic oak trees dot the landscape and several horses come to greet you from the pasture as you drive down the conifer lined driveway leading up to Hickory Ridge Woodworking.
At Hickory Ridge Woodworking inventions come to life. You can generally find sawdust flying from dawn to dusk with projects in various states of completion. Of course most people know the Amish are renowned for fine woodworking, but Enos seems to have a leg up on his competition and makes him perfect to build Acoustic Remedy's products. Like other Amish woodworkers, Enos has gotten many techniques passed down from his father and grandfather, but the family connection to the music industry seems like it was destiny we found him. Since his childhood Enos's father has been involved in producing the wood mounting blocks for String Swing, who's guitar hanger we use in our cases and can be found in guitar shops worldwide. It was actually the owner of String Swing who connected us with Enos and as the sayin goes "the rest is history".
During the first meeting with Enos we brought one of the earliest versions of the ClimaStand out on a cold January evening. As he lit the lantern and stoked the wood burning stove, we discussed some specifics and ideas of how to improve upon what we'd brought him. The history of the ClimaStand is another topic on it's own, but in short summary Acoustic Remedy had begun as an idea and after a few prototypes built in Ryan's garage we ended up using a local cabinet shop to make our first production run. We still have some of the cases from the cabinet shop labeled as "Factory 2nds" because they just can't compare to current versions.
One interesting thing that most people don't realize is that Amish woodworkers do use powered tools but do so without electricity. How do they do it? A diesel engine turns a line shaft which runs into the shop under the floor. This line shaft turns a pulley, which turns the motor shaft of the table saw, planer, sander, or other piece of equipment. The entire shop can be powered with an ingenious combination of clutches, bearings, pulleys, and transfer shafts. At the end of the entire process, hand sanding each and every surface is the final touch that cannot be replaced by any piece of equipment. Silky smooth surfaces combined with amazing joinery and precise cuts make for a product line that lives up to the reputation of Amish made. All Acoustic Remedy products are hand crafted, in small batches and receive the attention to detail that only a true craftsman can provide.
As the business flourished, so did the relationship we've built with Enos. In a nutshell, it's like having a good friend you do business with. His wife bakes us apple and pumpkin pies around the holidays. We sit down for several homemade dinners with them every summer and it always includes homemade ice cream. In turn, we purchase some personal items such as toys and other small knick knacks from him to be used in our homes or given as gifts. We help him out by stopping by the local home improvement shop to grab a few items for him before we drive out or drop him off at his dad's workshop 30 miles away. It should be noted that there are the typical difficult negotiations on pricing, timing of batch completion, customer demands, etc. that come with running a business. At the end of the day we have a mutual respect for one another that keeps things ticking.
As we enter the next iteration of Acoustic Remedy and expand our product lines, we have embarked on another journey with Hickory Ridge Woodworking by our side. In short order, Enos's son will be joining him and his wife in the workshop to help put their fingerprints on the products we ship worldwide. He has a large map with pins on it in nearly every single state in the USA. It's always a thrill to see the look on Enos's face when we tell him something he made is bound for Australia or Japan.
Our customers deserve the best and that's what they get from Hickory Ridge Woodworking. We're proud to put our name on everything we sell and cannot wait to see what the next 10 years has in store for us.