When Patrick Corrigan cut and designed a cutting board for his son’s girlfriend two years ago, he had no idea that that was his first step into the cutting board business.
“I love working with the wood; I love cutting the boards,” he said. “I just love every part of it.”
In December 2012, Corrigan, of Hicksville, NY, sealed the deal by making a dozen boards for his son to give to people in his apartment building for Christmas.
“It started out first as a hobby and then it quickly became a part-time business,” he said.
Corrigan, 70, retired from being a banker, of 37 years, a long time before becoming the founder and creator of Designer Cutting Boards, LLC. He had already had carpentry experience and was confident in his skills with a table saw and a chop saw.
“He’s got talent,” his wife Alice Corrigan said. “Nobody taught him to do those things.”
“He’s found something he really loves to do,” his daughter Kerrie Corrigan said. “He spends all his time doing it.”
“I’ve always had a passion for working with wood,” Patrick Corrigan said.
With that passion, he cuts and designs lightweight and heavy duty cutting boards, cheese boards, bread boards, candle holders, coasters and stands for the boards in his backyard shop.
He has invested 5,000 dollars on machinery and currently spends 600-700 dollars on wood every three months. He spends two full days each week working in his shop and one full day as a vendor at craft fairs. He goes to approximately 50 fairs a year all over Long Island including ones at hospitals and churches.
He lovess being at craft fairs, he said, because it provides him with the opportunity to interact with his customers. “I love talking to customers about my boards,” he said. “My favorite thing is when somebody walks up to my table and goes, ‘Wow. I got to have one of these.’”
Patrick Corrigan believes strongly in making eyeball-to-eyeball contact with his customers as well as standing in front of his table to work the crowd. “You cannot sell when you’re sitting down,” he said, “You have to be up, standing out in front of your craft, speaking to the people as they come by.”
He attributes these beliefs, along with his friendly and outgoing personality, to his success at craft fairs. “You have to be personable. If you’re dull and boring, it’s not going to work,” he said. “I sell most often than other people because they just sit back and wait for customers.”
Most of Patrick Corrigan’s customers are mostly new couples or women, which is why variety is so important to his work. He understands that his target market wants choices, just as if they were shopping for a dress or jewelry. Therefore, he uses all different types and colors of woods to create all random designs.
“I love them; I have about ten,” Kerrie Corrigan said. “They’re more decorative than others.“
While he’s at craft fairs, he also receives feedback about his boards that he applies to his work back at the shop. “I listen to them when they tell me they want a certain wood or a certain pattern,” he said. “You have to listen to your customer because they’re the ones that are paying for your craft.”
Patrick Corrigan now incorporates more colorful strips of wood into his boards because of the feedback he’s gotten.
Although his main source of customer interaction is at craft fairs, he has started to market his boards on the Designer Cutting Boards, LLC. Facebook page. He also carries business cards with him as well as some boards in his car. He’s even sold boards in the doctor’s office and the animal hospital that he visits.
He strives to give everyone a variety and to make his boards affordable. His cheese boards are 6-by-9-by-1 inch and sell for 20 dollars, the bread boards are 6-by-18-by-1 inch and sell for 30 dollars and the heavy duty cutting boards are 11-by-18-by 1 ¼ inches and sell for 50 dollars.
Patrick Corrigan buys his wood from Robert’s Plywood in Deer Park, NY. “I love the experience of going to the lumberyard and seeing thousands of different kinds of woods,” he said. “It’s like going into an antique shop and seeing rare pieces; that’s finished wood.
Some of the kinds of woods he buys are Maple, Oak, Walnut, Padouk, which is dark red, and Poplar, which is dark green.
Patrick Corrigan’s usual craft fair attire is his navy blue “got wood?” t-shirt that advertises Robert’s Plywood. He believes that the woods that are rich in color such as the Padouk and Poplar are part of the reason why his boards sell.
“They’re unique because of all the different types of wood that are in there,” he said about his boards. “They’re very colorful; all of the designs are random.”
“I think they’re beautiful,” Alice Corrigan said. “And it’s not something that’s been manufactured in a factory somewhere; it’s handmade, which I think makes all the difference.”
After bringing the wood to his shop, he cuts 18-inch strips that he glues, assembles and planes. When he gets close to finishing a board, his favorite part is the last step; putting the wood oil on and seeing the finish come up. “It’s just beautiful,” he said. “It brings up the luster in the wood.”
As Corrigan thinks about the future of his business, he knows he wants to grow it but he is debating what his next step should be. “Do I want to move out of this shop here and get a bigger shop? Staff up, get a business plan together, get a loan from the bank and get a marketing plan,” he questioned. “Make it into something bigger or just fine-tune what I have here?”
Although his plans have not been decided yet, there is one thing that he is certain of. “I want to start making some tabletops,” he said. He imagines designing tabletops that are two feet by 36 inches by one and a half inches. He plans on making a prototype over the winter and selling them in the spring.