02nd Sep 2016
Woodshop News is an enthusiast’s magazine that produces, among other articles, profiles that introduce interesting personalities or unique companies, which in August 2016 featured David Marshall and Albion Cabinets & Stairs. Read an excerpt below then follow the link to see the full article.
Drawn to the drawing board
Posted on Monday, 15 August 2016
Written by Ann M. Goebel
On his list of favorite things to do, David Marshall puts designing and constructing wood stairs at the top.
“Stairs are an interesting and challenging blend of form and function, which I never tire of mulling over,” Marshall says. “Pleasing appearance and proportion are very important and so is precise engineering to carry all the weight and meet the building codes.”
When he opened his woodworking business in 1994, Marshall hoped he could exclusively build spiral and winding stairs for a living. But the just-every-so-often demand for them couldn’t sustain a business, so he added cabinets and launched his Albion Cabinets & Stairs Inc. in Earlysville, Va.
Why the name Albion? It means “Old England”. Someone suggested he play up his English heritage, since the country has a reputation for some of the best wood craftsmen. Marshall adds, “It was also a good name because it began with ‘A’ so it was often the first to appear in the Yellow Pages under woodworkers.”
At first he worked alone, but eventually he hired a part-time employee to help with his first big project, a kitchen for a friend of a friend who was building a home.
“I offered to do the job for a ridiculously low price. She knew I had never undertaken such a job on my own, but she took a risk on me. She was pleased with the final product and that got my business off the ground.”
The bonus was a spiral stair she asked him to build.
Running the shop
Today the 3000-sq.-ft. shop runs smoothly with three employees. Shawn Bailey and Paul Wright came to Albion with carpentry experience. Henry, Marshall’s son, joined his dad in 2001. He grew up learning the trade and gaining appreciation for wood and woodworking at his dad’s elbow. He was between jobs and uncertain about his career path. His dad suggested he join Albion and see how he liked it. Henry now manages the shop.
“Henry is talented in every way – woodworking, installation, customer relations,” Marshall says. “Eventually, he’ll inherit the company, but not too soon. I’m in my 70s and still pretty healthy and I don’t want to give this up. I look forward to being here every day. I’m sort of the front-office guy. I handle job development and ordering supplies and make initial contact with customers and do follow-up consultations. I take care of bookkeeping and issuing paychecks with the help of QuickBooks and Payroll for Mac.”
Of Marshall’s many functions, making a congenial connection with clients is always of primary importance for a company like Albion, a custom business serving the residential segment. Sometimes customers have their own architects but if they don’t, Marshall provides his experienced advice.
“They may have a vague idea of what they want and often support preferences with pictures from Pinterest or magazines. Our objective is to help the client visualize how the end product will look and function. Sometimes that means discussing a variety of options they may not have thought of. My drawings can often help clarify a sticking point.”
Read the original article and see all photos here >