Jeff Durston is a graphic designer by trade and has turned his creative background into a side gig that helps other businesses stand out. Jack Pine Woodworks in Southwest Oxford Township offers customized branding and marketing solutions on wood and other products.
“I wasn’t always into woodworking, but I would say I have always been a creative person and I would use whatever medium fit the space at the time. It did start out as a hobby business with some small wood-burning to CNC (Computerized Numerical Control) projects which lead me to continually upscaling my machines to provide different services,” he says.
Jeff originally went to school to learn graphic design and worked professionally in the field for about five years, but something just didn’t seem right. “I didn’t like working in an office space so I ended up changing career paths and am now a millwright. Slightly different jobs but I guess they entail the same problem-solving skills.” He says what started out as a small wood-burning hobby turned into more including laser engraving. “My cousin and her husband operate Kintore Custom Hardwoods and they do some smaller projects like charcuterie boards, and I thought I could offer them custom laser engraving their logo into their products. That turned into who else can I do this for and that’s how it got started.”
While Jeff’s main source of income comes from his millwright duties, he says his long-term goal is to have the side gig become his regular gig. “I get a lot of joy out of making my products. I love working with other small businesses and that seems to be the niche I have zoned in on.” He says he has also been able to find something no one else was really doing which is custom rubber stamps. “It’s been pretty successful as far as helping businesses use stamps for use on bags or packaging. I have also been able to use my graphic design roots to move into supplying signage. I just like working with anything creative.” Jeff says he has multiple opportunities to work overtime as a millwright, but he’d rather take his day off to be creative with Jack Pine Woodworks.
Like so many business owners in Oxford, Jeff speaks highly of the comradery between companies in the rural areas. “There is definitely a network, and it may be a result of Rural Oxford Economic Development Corporation and others, but the networking, the word of mouth, it is community over competition. The majority of my business is word of mouth.” Durston adds he takes pride in his work and his products, and he feels that lends itself to other people who have passion for their product and business.
For the time being Jeff says he will stick to smaller projects as he works out of a relatively tiny shop, but he will continue to do everything in house including some unique personalized work. “You bring me your charcuterie board and I’ll engrave your mother’s recipe on it, or a gift from a realtor for someone who just purchased a house. I also do laser engraving services on Yeti’s which is a real pillar of the business.” He also takes a great deal of pride in his work being displayed in the public eye. “I love it when my daughter is in downtown Woodstock with her friends, and I have made something she can see.”
One of the most impressive things about Jeff is his willingness to learn and get better at his trade. “The only way to grow is to take on something that makes you uncomfortable. The projects I am most proud of are the ones I have jumped into and figure out along the way. I feel that’s the best way to learn and improve. Right now I am working on a five-foot outdoor sign for Early Bird Coffee and that is probably the biggest outdoor sign I have made.”
To find out more about what Jeff does have a look at his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/JackPineWoodworks.