What a concept: Mill work returns to Winsted mill
WINSTED â€” A Laurel City-based company has broken into the market of mill work for the interiors of high-end homes in, of all places, a restored mill building.
Provident Millwork & Hardware, a two-year-old company in the Blachere Building at 100 Whiting St., occupies a large share of the buildingâ€™s third floor with a custom carpentry and painting shop, plus offices and a storage area for completed materials.
The company, which has three satellite locations across the country, specializes in interior carpentry â€” from cabinets and bookcases to ornate paneling and trim â€” representing about one-tenth of the design of modern, multi-million-dollar homes.
â€œWeâ€™re working with the top tier, or the top 5 percent of the housing market,â€ said Mark Corbran, president of Provident Millwork, during a recent interview in his office, where he was surrounded by architectural plans for several homes, sized at more than 20,000 square feet each. The plans themselves can run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars to generate.
â€œAs grandiose as it sounds, this is the industry weâ€™re in, and youâ€™ve got to know how to treat your industry,â€ Corbran said. â€œYou gravitate toward certain circles and youâ€™re introduced to certain people in your work, and once youâ€™re in, youâ€™re in.â€
Corbranâ€™s confidence is reflected in the size of the projects he takes on. One architectural rendering, which takes up an entire table, shows a mansion in the works in Greenwich that is longer than a football field. Another home features an outdoor fireside sitting area/TV room with heated flooring. Ornate kitchens, media rooms, staircases and living areas are detailed in pages of material provided by architects and homebuilders who contract Provident Millwork to create and install the interior.
During a tour of Provident Millworkâ€™s offices and work space and storage area, Corbran noted that the company generally focuses on one room at a time. Carpenters were assembling shelving, cabinets and ornamental furnishings for a modern, upscale kitchen, with floor-to-ceiling structures being constructed piece by piece for assembly in the home. Once a room is finished, itâ€™s on to the next one, until all the interior mill work of the home is finished.
Corbran said Provident Millwork recently hired three new employees, bringing the total staff to 19 so far, and is in talks with state officials on obtaining grant money to further increasing the size of the company. The project would require the purchase of another building, possibly in Winsted, along with the implementation of a hiring program focused on veterans.
And for those who say there is no work out there, Corbran would beg to differ. He noted that he recently hired three more carpenters and said he expects to triple the size of his staff of about 15 people in the next two years. Skilled workers are employed both at the shop and at the home, where they complete the installation of everything from bookcases and cabinets to hardware and trim. Corbran contracts with a few other shops around the country when he needs, say, 20 bookcases or 40 cabinets made. Locally, skilled workers inspect the products and coordinate and complete the on-location installation.
Photos of Provident Millworkâ€™s completed projects show just how complex some of the work can be, with trim, shelving and cabinetry in assorted rooms becoming vital components in homes that are works of art. Corbran pointed out a 2-by-2-foot ornamental end piece for the kitchen project in progress and noted that the single piece took 40 hours to fabricate.
And the number of people who are willing to pay for that kind of specialized work is growing, Corbran said.
â€œThe economy is up 7 percent this year, which is a huge number compared to the last three years,â€ he said. â€œWith the high-end market weâ€™re looking at â€” houses going for $3 million and more â€” that class of individuals is watching their money, but theyâ€™re spending. Anything less than that, theyâ€™re not spending.â€
Winsted is a perfect location for the business, Corbran said, since the majority of Provident Millworkâ€™s clients have been located in Massachusetts, upstate New York and southwest Connecticut. The majority of the clients have been builders of residential homes, but Provident has been called in for interior work for hotels and other commercial projects.
A carpenter by trade who had his own furniture business in North Canton during the 1990s, Corbran said he took time off to be with his family in 2002, after realizing he was spending too much time away from home. Regrouping, he formed Provident Millwork two years ago with the philosophy that family and faith come before work, and that employees should have flexible schedules and be happy on the job.
With his new business model, Corbran said, staff members have freedom to spend quality time with their families, but they also work hard churning out components for home interiors that must be completed on firm deadlines.
Better still, Corbran said, the company has room to build and grow.