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home : business : business September 14, 2014

8/26/2014 3:35:00 PM
Business expands Sisters operations
Jason Knoke and Adam Silva manufacture doors and pre-hang doors at Lakeview Millwork’s Sisters manufacturing and shipping facility. photo by Jim Cornelius
+ click to enlarge
Jason Knoke and Adam Silva manufacture doors and pre-hang doors at Lakeview Millwork’s Sisters manufacturing and shipping facility. photo by Jim Cornelius
By Jim Cornelius
News Editor

In the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression, Brad King doubled down on Sisters. Construction was hit hard by the economy's freefall in 2008-09, but King's company, Lakeview Millworks, held on through the dark times, opening and then expanding a showroom for its custom doors and windows in downtown Sisters (upstairs in the Town Square, across from Bronco Billy's).

As the economic picture brightened, King's plans turned to establishing his manufacturing in Sisters as well. It wasn't just about consolidating operations - it was about investing in the community King calls home, developing an employee-centered company, and providing training and jobs for young people trying to stay here.

"We're the platform to help them make a living," King told The Nugget. "We want to train kids in the community to learn a trade, a skill."

Those plans took a major step forward recently, as Lakeview Millworks established a small manufacturing and shipping facility in rented property in the Sisters Industrial Park.

"We're manufacturing some doors; we're pre-hanging doors," King said.

Property-owner G.J. Miller supported a significant remodel to the property, but the space is not enough for what King envisions.

"We're invested in there - and we don't have anywhere near enough room," he said. "Not even close."

He says he needs 10,000 to 15,000 square feet.

"I really want to do some manufacturing, bring in some equipment," he said.

That ultimately means building his own facility, but King says that due to cost and restrictions, "it's very difficult to build any building or do any infrastructure in this town." Nevertheless, he says, "I'm gonna do it one way or another."

At the industrial park facility, master craftsman Jason Knoke and his assistant Adam Silva manufacture doors and pre-hang doors for delivery all across the region.

Knoke and King go way back.

"I went to work for Brad in 1977, building furniture, actually," he said.

The men's career paths diverged over the years and then converged again. Knoke's cabinet-building skills serve him in good stead in creating entryways for discerning customers, who want something special.

"It's going gangbusters," he said. "Everybody wants eight-foot doors now. It's become a piece of furniture now, like the cabinets."

Adam Silva started working for Lakeview Millworks last February. He's an example of what King hopes to do with and for young folks in the community.

"They needed some sanders; I started out sanding," Silva recalled.

King and Knoke were paying attention. They wanted to see which of their temporary employees would stick. Silva impressed with "his level of effort, initially," King said.

The young man showed initiative, desire, and a willingness to do whatever was needed to secure and hold his position. Now, he's learning every aspect of the trade from Knoke.

"He does it all, pretty much," said Knoke. "Whatever needs to be done, he takes care of it for us."

That may mean woodworking; it may mean driving a delivery truck - and Silva's game to do it all.

Developing young workers is not all altruism for King and Knoke.

King says, "I'd rather invest in youth than in somebody who's so far down the line that they have some bad habits that you just can't change."

Silva was previously working as an arborist.

"I like to climb trees and stuff," he said. "So it's different from that. I like working with my hands and building stuff."

Being able to work in the town where he grew up is a boon.

"I had to drive to Deschutes River Woods every day, so staying local is nice," he said.

And he likes the work environment.

"Brad's a great person to work for," he said. "He'll bend over backwards for you if you need it."

The Lakeview Millworks showroom has become a destination for homeowners sourcing doors and windows across the state. That was part of King's reason for situating the headquarters here: He wanted to bring people to Sisters. Bringing the manufacturing arm of the company home was the next step.

"This has been Brad's dream for years," Knoke noted.

There are hurdles to be cleared and disadvantages to be mitigated in doing what Lakeview Millworks has done, but King and his crew believe it's well worth it.

As Knoke says, "We sacrifice a little bit here to stay here, to stay at home."

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