It was 2001, and I was in the second year of the 2-year Fine Woodworking program at Rockingham Community College in beautiful Wentworth, NC. I was getting properly educated for a second career as a furniture maker. My first career had come to a close in 1999 when I retired after 20 years of service as a communications officer in the U.S. Air Force.
One evening, after a long day at school, I arrived home to find a message on the answering machine (yes, there used to be such things as hardline phones with answering machines). I hit the button to hear the voice of Stan Fleming come over the speaker. Stan was a friend from my Air Force days, and one of the smartest and most creative people I’ve known.
Stan was keenly aware of my ongoing woodworking education, because he had spent the past 3 years begging me to join his business venture. His business was doing quite well (as anyone who knows him would have predicted) and he needed smart people to help it continue to grow. Leaving twenty years of technical communications experience to become a furniture maker made no sense to him…and he was going to bring me to my senses. As I listened to his message, I expected to hear another pitch about all the money I could be making if I joined him. But instead his message was:
“Will you make a desk for me?”
I wondered if this was another recruiting attempt, but I promptly returned the call to find that Stan really did want a desk. I accepted my first commission as a furniture maker, and spent every minute of spare shop time making Stan’s desk. It arrived at his Colorado Springs home a few months later. My grade in chair-making class suffered a little because my attention shifted elsewhere, but the early experience with pleasing a customer more than compensated.
The desk…..Stan wanted a desk for his home office. He saw clients there, and wanted a large desk that would accommodate another person to sit across from him to meet and do business. Desks of this design are referred to as Partner's Desks. My design included 3 large drawers and concealed channels to hide computer cables. Dual pullouts could be used from either side of the desk. The desktop was reversible, with two wood grains to choose from. Stan has since returned for a matching credenza and bookshelves.