Friday, January 29, 2016

Two Cowboys: Making Things That Lasts Longer Than You at Canmore Woodcrafters, Canmore, Alberta

Things that Last

(Learn: * Inspire: *** Amaze: ** Live: ****)
(The Two Cowboys Subjective Rate-o-Meter.)

Canmore Woodcrafters was founded by Ernst Salzgeber and Sandra Salzgeber. Ernst is originally from Switzerland and immigrated to Canada in 1974. Sandra was from Richmond BC.



In 1979 the business occupied a 600 square foot garage. The business was founded on the principals of exceptional craftsmanship, attention to detail, experience, honesty, and timeliness. It resulted in continual and steady growth. Canmore Woodcrafters Ltd. occupies 12,680 square feet of a building located in the Elk Run Industrial Park of Canmore.

Canmore Woodcrafters Ltd. Management and Staff continue to provide custom woodworking services with the same cornerstones that the business was built on in 1979.


There is no denying that Canada has a lot of trees. It is, therefore, inevitable to see a lot of wood construction. Wood is not only an excellent building material, but it also provides an outstanding opportunity for expression.

Wood is one of the most revered and versatile mediums. Many people are exposed to working with it during school when they have the chance to attend classes in wood shop. For this reason, we make a wood crafting producer one of our first stops. The art is as old as humanity itself. Canmore Woodcrafters is a business that does just that: combining construction with art. Brian and his team create one-of-a-kind pieces that are intended to outlast its makers.

The Bow Valley is world renowned for its luxury accommodation. Not only are there Multi Million Dollar homes owned by people from all around the world, but it also has iconic hotels such as the Fairmont Banff Springs, Lake Louise Fairmont Hotel, and many other. This luxury comes with a high demand for quality in construction and craftsmanship. A lot of the finishing is custom woodwork. A lot of it has been done by the Salzgebers over the last thirty plus years.

We find the people responsible for quality woodwork just down the road from our initially profiled producer: Valbella Gourmet Foods.

Impressions

Our visit with Brian and his team left us with a few outstanding gems:

"Playing in the sawdust and humming to the sound of the machines," Brian tells the story of how he grew up in the garage where his father worked. He tried to "escape" as a young adult but had to return to continue in the business. He had no choice but to answer to the producer calling and values his parents instilled in him. He made something, and still continue to do so even in his spare time.


"Making something that will outlast us." It is amazing to realise that the items and finishes that are produced by the crafters at Canmore Woodcrafters are made to last. Very few things in the world are made to last anymore. The current focus in manufacturing is of quantity and consistency. It is incredible to realise that the chair, the table, door or bar counter you sit at when visiting an upmarket establishment in the Bow Valley is likely to be there decades from now - long after the producer departed. Also, that it is unique. It is the only one of its kind.

"We've delayed fourteen years to get a CNC Machine." Brian acknowledged that while they resisted departing from the traditional handcrafting methods for making quality articles, they eventually had to invest in a computerised machine to compete in the market. It was only after making the investment that they realised the machine is not detracting from their maker values, but rather serve a similar role to the first hammer or saw. It is just a tool that helps to take the craft of the producer to the next level. It provides more possibilities. Instead of replacing people (which to some degree it does), it also brings new people into the fold that can work with the technology. It allows more people to make something. It allows more incredible things to be done.

Canmore Woodcrafters provided an unusual glimpse into an age-old craft, with young and dynamic people that produce amazing unique woodwork, destined to outlast them. What a remarkable story.

Every time I am sitting at a bar in the Bow Valley my mind wanders. I think of meeting Brian, and wonder if this is a bar the Salzgebers made. When I asked Brian which ones they've done, he wasn't very forthcoming. I think they've done many. My suspicion is that it is not the article that held the value. Rather, it was the process of making it with fellow craftsmen and women. These are producers. These are the people that are making our world. I am glad to have met them.

Facebook page for Canmore Woodcrafters

Hendrik
Producer.

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