Kelly J. Stigliano
A Cut Above
Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse House Magazine
One man’s trash is another boy’s treasure . . . and budding business. That’s not exactly how the saying goes. But that’s the way it works for Nate and Ned K.
These brothers make attractive cutting boards and serving trays out of discarded wood and granite.
“We rescue wood that would normally rot,” says 13-year-old Ned, “and change it into a beautiful and useful object for others to enjoy.”
The boys’ business began in 2013 when their family built a home in the woods of Gainesville, Florida.
After cutting down some trees to clear the land, their dad used the wood from a small red oak to make the windowsills for their house.
“That little oak grew faithfully for 20 years, using sun and rain to create life,” their mom told the boys. “Now we’re going to make something useful out of it.”
Mom experimented with extra pieces of the red oak, brushing on different finishes to bring out the wood’s beauty. In the end, she created a cutting board.
Nate and Ned also played with pieces of wood left during construction. With the help of their parents and grandpa, they improved their woodworking skills by practicing cutting, sanding and finishing.
The boys made their own cutting boards and gave them to family members for Christmas gifts. Before long, people encouraged them to go into business. In the first year and a half, Kiker Brother’s Boards sold 73 cutting boards.
“The wood and stone that we work with reveal God’s craftsmanship,” Ned says. “When people admire the grain and the color, they are admiring God’s fingerprint that is placed in every part of His creation.”
The wood Nate and Ned use comes from a variety of places. They got cherry and honey locust from Tennessee after some trees fell on their grandpa’s property. Pecan wood came from their uncle in North Carolina who cut down a tree that was struck by lightning. The boys collected cedar branches after a Florida electric company trimmed a tree that was growing too close to power lines.
“Some people return from their travels with souvenirs like t-shirts,” Nate says. “We come home with logs strapped to our roof!”
The brothers are also friends with the owner of a local construction landfill. When they saw valuable pieces of granite left over from building projects, they asked if they could gather them each week.
While wearing protective eyewear, Ned chips away sharp edges, washes the stone slabs, puts felt pads on the bottom and ends up with beautiful serving boards.
Nate and Ned are a good team. Nate has an eye for detail and knows how to cut wood just right to give the board an interesting curve and shape. Ned enjoys sanding a board to smooth perfection. Their two younger brothers are also getting interested in the business.
As the business has grown, the boys have started selling their cutting boards at craft shows. Ned discovered he has a special gift for connecting with customers. He enjoys meeting new people and telling them about the business.
Still, finding new customers isn’t easy. When the brothers get discouraged, Mom helps them see the big picture and how success is achieved in small daily steps of building good habits. Dad helps by cutting logs with his chainsaw, so the boys stay well supplied with workable pieces of wood.
The brothers also find comfort in one of their favorite Bible verses: “So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. (1 Peter 5:6, The Message paraphrase).
Ned’s advice to anyone who wants to start a business is simple. “Make sure you have a good product and work at it until you get the right quality. Then you can start experimenting to discover where to find people who want to buy your product.”
He knows that all great ideas and blessings come from God, and Ned wants to give back. Kiker Brothers’ Boards tithes 10 percent of their income to their church. They also donate cutting boards to silent auctions with the money going to local charities.
“It’s rewarding to know that our handiwork helps raise money to support a worthwhile cause,” Ned says.
Running a business is hard work, and the experience has taught the brothers many lessons. Sometimes they feel like quitting, but they know God is with them.
“What we do feels small, but we see value in it,” Ned says. “The business gives us an opportunity to grow in our character, especially perseverance and our work ethic.”
Work has to be done, so these brothers are never board . . . er, make that bored.