Nick Offerman has brought the laughs as Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation, smooth talked as lawyer Karl Weathers in the second season of Fargo and plays one of the McDonald brothers in the upcoming Ray Kroc biopic The Founder, but he also really likes to make things out of wood.
The 46-year-old actor, who built sets and props while attending theater school, eventually opened his own woodshop after moving to Los Angeles from his home state of Illinois. Offerman Woodshop employs nine, according to its website, and sells custom-made tables, chairs, beds and other items such as moustache combs.
Despite having a big-name actor behind a company, Offerman faces hurdles like other entrepreneurs. It’s the artisanal aspect that provides Offerman his greatest business challenge.
“For us, it’s weird. We put a lot of effort towards not growing our business,” he recently told Entrepreneur during CES 2017. (He was there as a spokesman for American Greetings, who cleverly presented the greeting card as a #DeviceLikeNoOther.) “If our business were to take off by say, offering an Offerman line of furniture, that’s not something you can make in a shop in an artisanal fashion, unless we add 20 employees and work around the clock. That’s not fun. Part of the reason we work in a woodshop is because it’s fun and we enjoy it.”
While Offerman has a high-paying day job, he’s concerned about supporting his staff financially and keeping them happy. Part of his strategy is following the example of Christian Becksvoort, a Maine-based woodworker who Offerman calls a personal hero and who has appeared on Parks and Recreation. According to Offerman, Becksvoort spends 60 percent of his time making things in his shop and the other time doing paperwork, researching clients and gathering supplies.
“I took that as pay attention to the nuts and bolts of your business. It’s not all about getting to carve canoes,” he said. “Understand that there is a lot of hard work besides just having fun.”