News & Views
Photo of Sandwich Village by Joe Janis
What is your name and the name of your business?
My full name is Carl Parker Hansen. Named after my father Carl, but not junior. To my closest friends and the government I'm Carl but I've gone by Parker my whole life. The name of my business is Lower Corner Millworks, named after our family home in the old brick store at the historic Lower Corner.
How did you get to Sandwich, NH?
My relationship with Sandwich goes back as far as I can remember. We summered in our small family cottage on Dinsmore Pond until we moved here permanently in 1999 to renovate the old brick store. My parents met in Sandwich in the early 80s doing theater with the Sandwich players in a production of Our Town.
My father owned and operated the only gas pump by the only "traffic light" in town. Generations of our family on the Howe side (my father’s mother was a Howe) have lived on Diamond Ledge and Howe Hill, including Rev. Chester Howe. My father has cousins who still live on Howe Hill in Sandwich. I had moved away to Portland, Maine in 2014 after college, but returned in 2020 to start my own cabinet shop.
What got you started in this profession?
My father has always been a carpenter and cabinet maker, so growing up I would help him as much as I could. After gaining my degree in Environmental Studies from The University of Vermont, I pursued a career in teaching but after being waitlisted for grad school, I began working at a cabinet shop in South Portland, Maine.
For five years I worked my way up to production supervisor at one of the largest cabinet shops in New England, while simultaneously attending Southern Maine Community College to earn an Associates Degree in Architectural and Engineering Design. I then saw an opportunity to return to Sandwich with the skills I had gained, to try my hand at running my own cabinet shop. I knew my father was retiring, as well as a few other cabinet makers/carpenters in town, so I felt that there would be an eventual void that needed to be filled. In the winter of 2020 I started Lower Corner Millworks.
Tell us about your business. What do you make, do, or offer as a service?
Initially I began making signs and small wooden crafts like cribbage boards, catch-all trays, cutting boards, etc., but knew I wanted to be making cabinets and furniture. It took about six months but I eventually built my first kitchen for a client. I’ve made several tables and I was hired to fill an entire home with bookshelf built-ins, bunk beds, an entertainment unit and a full kitchen. I still provide sign engraving services, custom gifts and other misc. products, including 3D topographical maps, flight boards for breweries (a flight board is a serving tray for small glasses of beer or wine or spirits) and the occasional cutting board!
I also have a relationship with The Shaker Furniture Company to make furniture parts and I use a CNC router for some projects. A CNC Machine or Computer Numerical Control Machine is a computer-aided router that allows the user to program text or shapes to be cut out or engraved onto a designated material. In my case, I engrave signs into wood or signboard, cut out furniture parts out of wood, create 3D landscapes out of solid wood or cut cabinet parts out of plywood.
How did your business get started?
My business began pretty easy. Registering my LLC, acquiring start-up funds from The Wentworth Economical Development Corporation and finding a shop space to rent all happened very quickly. My first client was The Shaker Furniture Company, who hired me to make furniture parts before I even had my shop set up.
What is the most fun/satisfying aspect of your work?
The best part of my job is setting my own hours, deciding what jobs to take and basically just being able to do what I love every day. I could be working on a live edge table one day and then making a custom charcuterie board the next. The scope of my work is diverse, which I love. I also get to bring my dog to the shop which is probably the best part.
What is the hardest?
There are a few difficult aspects of my job. I make my own hours which is fantastic, but not having a "clock-in" time sometimes results in sleeping in a little longer than I should some days! Definitely the most difficult part of the job is juggling every task that goes into running your own business, specifically, bookkeeping. I cannot stress enough how boring yet important it is to keep track of all the ins and outs of my business and I'm learning quickly that hoarding receipts in a manilla folder until tax season is not a great habit to get into.
What are your goals and hopes for the future?
My goals when I started this adventure were pretty straightforward; to build what I wanted and continue the tradition of craftspeople in Sandwich. I had to leave Sandwich to really appreciate the town I grew up in. When I knew my father was retiring from his long career as a cabinet maker and carpenter, I knew that there would be opportunities to fill the void he left behind.
The first year of operating I made four signs for local businesses, several large cabinet jobs, and a contract to provide Sandwich-based Shaker Workshops with furniture parts. I have made countless gifts and game boards for people I grew up around. I joked in my college essay that "Sandwich is a vibrant town full of carpenters and yoga instructors, where the post office parking lot looks like a Subaru dealership." Fifteen years after writing that essay, I find myself driving my Outback to the post office to pick up mail for my own woodworking business.
What else can you tell us about yourself and your business?
I'm learning something new everyday. Working in Sandwich means a lot to me. Personally, Sandwich has always been my home, whether it be summers as a small child, becoming our "new home" when I was in 5th grade or when I returned after years away. Creating my business in this small town full of hardworking men and women makes me very proud. Carrying on the traditions of these people is something I take very personally and I hope I can make my family and neighbors proud.
To learn more about Lower Corner Millworks visit: lowercornermillworks.com
or get in touch with Parker at: 603-986-8391, email@example.com. Facebook and Instagram people can search Lower Corner Millworks
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