The very first piece of furniture Ross Mangin made was a dresser with a changing station, 11 years ago, when his wife Allie was pregnant with their first child. Ross would head straight to his friend’s backyard workshop after a shift at the hospital where he works and build in the middle of the night until it was finished. And it went on like that for years: working full time in his medical career, slowly accruing his own woodworking tools, building a workshop, and making pieces for his home and for friends in his free time. Woodworking was a creative pastime that gave Ross energy and life. When he realized the impact that sharing his skills could have on others’ lives in our community, he decided to grow it into a business.
And Tré Woodworking was born, a business he named after the Old Norse word for wood, with the purpose of hiring and training a refugee. Through difficult language barriers, he began working with two apprentices, refugees from the countries of Eritrea and Burma. He offered them his knowledge and experience in woodworking–but also English, and friendship. Though their apprenticeships ended with the onset of the pandemic, Ross has continued to grow Tré into a successful custom handmade furniture business.
You’ll often find Ross, as I did for this interview, relaxing by carving spoons on his front porch, surrounded by his own family and a family of neighbors. He feels supported by his community and that there is sincere appreciation in Winston for the process of designing a custom piece and bringing it to life. The end results are magnificent; one-of-a-kind pieces built of hand-selected pieces of wood, joined together expertly and thoughtfully to precise specifications by a skilled craftsman. “There’s a lot of energy that goes into finding the right boards that won’t warp or twist or bow, and then taming those things as you build it into something that will stay flat and stable. Wood is beautiful,” he explains, “it’s warm and nice to feel and touch. But it is live. It moves; you’d be amazed by how much movement can happen over time. And those are the things you have to predict as a woodworker.”
October 7, 2021