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Gone for wood

image Rick Kirkindall stands next to one of his works of art.

DALLAS/FT WORTH - Rick Kirkindall calls his stint in the corporate world 30 years ago as “the worst time in his life ever.” Besides the micromanaging he experienced, he found that his fashion sense wasn’t always appreciated.









    “One day, I had a pair of suit pants on and a sport coat, and with it I wore a denim shirt and tie,” he remembers. “The manager of the department said that wasn’t very professional and told me to go home. I asked her if she really wanted to do that because, if I went home, I wasn’t coming back.”
    Kirkindall cleaned out his desk that day, but he wasn’t worried. It was the motivation he needed to establish his company, Rick’s Woodworking.
    “I had always been woodworking; I had my saws and was making things every weekend out of my 20ft. by 20ft. two-car garage anyway,” he says. “That was a really good reason to push me over the edge. I believe everything happens for a reason.”
    Kirkindall makes custom, one-of-a-kind pieces such as cabinetry and bookcases using alder, ash, maple, oak and walnut hardwoods and veneers. From an early age, he was influenced to build beautiful things.
    “I did it as a very young boy,” he says. “My father built homes down in Houston in River Oaks. I liked to do the finish end of it, the pretty stuff; I didn’t much care for framing houses, even though I could do it. When I went to elementary school, I would walk through a neighborhood that was being built, and I made friends with and worked with these old-time cabinet guys who set up shop in these houses. I could make pretty much anything as a 5th grader or 6th grader in school. I’ve always been a problem-solver; I’ve always enjoyed it. I liked mechanical stuff as well as a kid and I’m very good at that; that helped me out a lot as an adult.”
    Kirkindall grew his business methodically and sensibly, with the long game in mind. He worked in his home’s garage for a year before he outgrew it and moved out to a “pretty good-sized shop” in Carrollton.
    “I would only buy tools after every job,” he explains. “In the early years, I bought small tools. I never financed anything. I would go to pawn shop and buy everything I could buy. Today, I have about half a million dollars in tools that I bought and paid for and I don’t owe anyone anything.”
    Kirkindall has enjoyed the freedom that comes from owning his own business.
    “I can be creative,” Kirkindall says. “No one is bird-dogging me. It comes right out of my head and right out my hands, making doors, or drawers or cabinetry from scratch. The joy in that is – regardless of how good one person is – as you grow older, you can’t do what you could when you were in your 20s or 30s, but people that age haven’t really lived long enough to know what it takes to do a really good job. The devil is in the details. In the early years of the business, the biggest joy used to be getting the job. If I could get the job, I could figure out how to get it done. That’s the way I’ve always been.”
    Kirkindall’s work has won accolades in Houzz’s “Best Of” category for several years. He hopes to find someone to whom he can pass along his knowledge and his business, but with the dearth of young people interested in learning the trade, he doubts that will happen.
    “I’m just going to work until I fall down dead,” he jokes.
    Still, he’d rather be dead than go back to working in the corporate sphere again. A few years after he started his business, the woman who chastised Kirkindall for his denim shirt/suit combo pulled up next to him at a stoplight and excitedly greeted him. Kirkindall, for his part, didn’t reciprocate her enthusiasm.
    “I had been called by two or three different managers who said, ‘Rick, you’re good at what you do, why don’t you come back?” he said, amused. “I said, ‘No.”
    Woodworking subcontractor Rick’s Woodworking is in Carrollton. –mjm

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Melissa Jones-Meyer dfweditor@constructionnews.net